Nighttime physical activity lowers blood sugar levels: study

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People who are overweight or obese should exercise in the evening to manage their blood sugar, new research from Spain finds.

“Our results highlight the importance of the field of precision exercise prescription,” study author Jonatan R. Ruiz, a professor of physical activity and health at the University of Granada, said in a statement Monday.


People who are overweight or obese should exercise in the evening to manage their blood sugar, new research from Spain finds.
People who are overweight or obese should exercise in the evening to manage their blood sugar, new research from Spain finds. ParinPIX – stock.adobe.com

“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,” he added.

Researchers tracked the blood sugar and physical activity of 186 adults who were overweight or obese, noting if they exercised between 6 a.m. and noon, noon to 6 p.m., or 6 p.m. to midnight.


Working out in the evening was linked to lower day, night and overall blood glucose levels in men and women.
Working out in the evening was linked to lower day, night and overall blood glucose levels in men and women. Bogdan – stock.adobe.com

Working out in the evening was linked to lower day, night and overall blood sugar levels in men and women. This association was stronger in participants with prediabetes, a serious, common condition that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Over 38 million Americans have diabetes, which is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels.

The findings will be published later this year in Obesity Society’s flagship journal, Obesity.

A UK study released in April drew similar conclusions, proposing that nighttime physical activity may lead to lower blood sugar levels in the morning.

Other research has found that exercising later in the day, especially after meals, can help manage blood sugar spikes.

To wit, a May 2023 study reported that adults with Type 2 diabetes saw the best blood sugar results when they were most active between 1:43 p.m. and 5 p.m.

“Afternoon exercise was linked with the greatest benefits, but the reasons for this are unclear and current evidence on optimal times for exercising is mixed,” Dr. Lucy Chambers, head of research communications at Diabetes UK, told CNN after those findings were released last year.

“If you’re living with Type 2 diabetes, the most important thing is to find an exercise you enjoy and that you can incorporate into your routine in the long term,” continued Chambers, who was not involved with that research, “whether it’s before work, on your lunch break, or in the evening.”

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