Evening workouts: A key to better blood sugar levels

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If you’re trying to manage your blood sugar levels, the timing of your exercise might be more important than you think. A recent study has shown that exercising in the evening can significantly lower blood sugar levels in overweight and obese adults. This finding is a breakthrough in understanding how the timing of physical activity can influence health.

The study

The research, published in the journal Obesity, involved 186 adults with an average age of 46 years and a body mass index (BMI) of 32.9 kg/m2, indicating overweight or obesity.

These participants were monitored for their physical activity and glucose levels over a two-week period. Using a triaxial accelerometer and a continuous glucose-monitoring device, the researchers tracked the participants’ movements and blood sugar fluctuations.

Why timing matters

It’s well-known that moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) improves glucose homeostasis, particularly in people at risk of insulin resistance. However, this study delves deeper, exploring the optimal timing of such activities to enhance daily blood glucose control. The researchers categorised the participants’ physical activity into different times of the day: morning (6am to noon), afternoon (noon to 6pm), evening (6pm to midnight), or mixed if the activity was spread throughout the day.

evening workouts
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Key findings

The results were striking. Participants who performed more than 50% of their daily physical activity in the evening had significantly lower blood glucose levels throughout the day and night compared to those who were inactive. This effect was particularly pronounced in participants with impaired glucose regulation. Both men and women experienced similar benefits.

Expert insights

Dr. Jonatan R. Ruiz, one of the lead researchers, emphasised the importance of precision in exercise prescriptions. He suggests that healthcare professionals should consider the timing of physical activity when advising patients to enhance the effectiveness of their exercise routines. This approach could be particularly beneficial for those with higher risks of metabolic impairments.

The bigger picture

This study is part of a growing field that looks at individualised exercise prescriptions tailored to specific health conditions, These study findings move beyond the simple advice of “move more” to a more nuanced recommendation of when to move for maximum benefit. Be it an evening jog, a swim, a badminton game or a gym workout, physical activity in the evenings has tremendous health benefits.

Evening workouts
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Mechanisms behind the findings

So why is evening exercise so effective? Human physiological processes, including glucose metabolism, are regulated by circadian rhythms. During the afternoon and evening, our skeletal muscles become less efficient at glucose uptake, which means that exercise during these times can help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance. Exercise also influences the body’s internal clock and activates certain genes that play a crucial role in metabolism.

Practical implications

For many people, the idea of scheduling exercise can be daunting. However, this study suggests that even without a strict exercise regimen, simply shifting daily physical activities to the evening can have significant health benefits. This approach can be easier to integrate into daily life, particularly for those with busy schedules.

Limitations and future research

While the study provides valuable insights, it has some limitations. The observational design means that causality cannot be established. Additionally, the study did not account for dietary intake or stress levels, which can also affect blood glucose levels. Future research should explore whether these findings apply to older adults or those with diabetes and investigate the underlying mechanisms in more detail.

This study highlights the potential benefits of evening exercise for lowering blood sugar levels in overweight and obese adults. By considering the timing of physical activity, individuals and healthcare providers can better manage glucose levels and potentially reduce the risk of developing more serious metabolic conditions. This research opens the door to more personalised and effective exercise recommendations that go beyond general advice, focusing on the best times to be active for optimal health.

Evening workouts
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New insights and final thoughts

As we continue to uncover the complexities of metabolic health, the role of exercise timing emerges as a promising area for improving health outcomes. This study’s findings encourage us to think differently about when we exercise and how these small changes can make a big difference in managing our health.

Evening workouts might just be the key to better blood sugar control. By making this simple adjustment, you could significantly impact your health, making your evenings not just more productive, but healthier too. So next time you’re planning your day, consider saving some of your energy for an evening workout – your body might thank you for it.

HealthLifestyleThailand News

Dr. Nikhil Prasad

Dr. Nikhil Prasad is an independent researcher, medical, pharma and health PR consultant, herbalists and phytochemical specialists and a medical and health writer for numerous international publications and sites including his own sites such as Thailand Medical News. He is based either at Sydney, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai or Bangkok.

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