Evening Exercise May Be Most Effective for Lowering Daily Blood Sugar in Adults

For sedentary adults with overweight and obesity, engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity in the evening may be the most beneficial for lowering daily blood sugar levels, according to a new study published in Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society (TOS).

While it is well established that moderate to vigorous physical activity enhances glucose homeostasis in adults with overweight and obesity who are at higher risk of developing insulin resistance, little is known about the optimal timing of such activity for improving daily blood glucose control.

“Our results highlight the importance of the field of precision exercise prescription. In clinical practice, certified sports and medical personnel should consider the optimal timing of the day to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise and physical activity programs they prescribe,” said Jonatan R. Ruiz, PhD, professor of physical activity and health at the University of Granada and one of the study’s corresponding authors, along with predoctoral researcher Antonio Clavero-Jimeno.

Study Examines Physical Activity and Glucose Patterns Over 14 Days

The study used baseline examination data from a multi-center randomized controlled trial conducted in Granada and Pamplona, Spain, which aimed to study the efficacy and feasibility of time-restricted eating on visceral adipose tissue, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with overweight and obesity. A total of 186 adults with an average age of 46 years and a body mass index of 32.9 kg/m2 participated in the cross-sectional study. Their physical activity and glucose patterns were simultaneously monitored over a 14-day period using a triaxial accelerometer worn on the non-dominant wrist and a continuous glucose-monitoring device.

The researchers classified the volume of moderate to vigorous physical activity accumulated for each day into categories, including inactive (if no activity was accumulated), and as ‘morning,’ ‘afternoon,’ ‘evening,’ or ‘mixed’ based on when more than 50% of the moderate to vigorous physical activity minutes were accumulated.

Evening Exercise Associated with Lower Blood Glucose Levels

The results showed that accumulating more than 50% of moderate to vigorous physical activity in the evening was associated with lowering day, night, and overall blood glucose levels compared with being inactive. This association was stronger in participants with impaired glucose regulation, and the pattern of these associations was similar in both men and women.

“As the field moves towards individualized exercise prescriptions for different chronic conditions, this study now provides additional insights beyond just telling patients to ‘move more,’ but instead to move as often as possible and to prioritize afternoon-to-evening movement when feasible for glucose regulation,” said Renee J. Rogers, PhD, FACSM, senior scientist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who was not associated with the research.

The study’s authors declared no conflicts of interest. The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Granada, the Public University of Navarre, the Navarra Institute for Health Research, and the Center for Biomedical Research Network Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition in Spain.

The study, titled “Impact of Lifestyle Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Timing on Glycemic Control in Sedentary Adults with Overweight/Obesity and Metabolic Impairments” will be published later this year in the journal Obesity.

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