Analysing data from the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study, researchers from the Brigham and Joslin Diabetes Centre found an interesting finding.

They assessed whether physical activity at certain times of the day was associated with greater improvement in blood sugar control.

Co-author Jingyi Qian, PhD, said: “In this study, we shown that adults with type 2 diabetes had the greatest improvement in glucose control when they were most active in the afternoon.

“We’ve known that physical activity is beneficial, but what our study adds is a new understanding that timing of activity may be important too.”

Looking at the physical activity data from the first and fourth years of the study, the group that maintained more movement in the afternoon had the greatest reduction in blood sugar levels.

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Moreover, the afternoon activity group also had the highest chance of stopping diabetes medication.

Co-author Roeland Middelbeek, MD, assistant investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center, commented on the findings.

“Timing does seem to matter,” said Middelbeek. “Going forward, we may have more data and experimental evidence for patients to give more personalised recommendations.”

Study details

Of the 2,400 participants, they all wore a waist accelerometry recording device to measure physical activity for the research study.

There are limitations, however, as the study is an observational one that doesn’t account for confounding factors such as sleep and dietary intake.

Diabetes and exercise

Diabetes UK confirmed: “Being physically active is good for diabetes.”

Whether it’s actively partaking in a jogging event, for example, or walking on the spot while the kettle boils, “it all makes a difference”.

Exercising helps to improve the management of diabetes in numerous ways, from better insulin sensitivity to helping you drop some weight.

The charity cautioned: “You can still exercise if you have diabetes complications, like problems with your eyes or heart, but you’ll need to think a bit more about the activity you choose.

For example, you should avoid high-intensity activity and heavy lifting.”

Yet, more gentle, low-impact exercises – such as swimming, cycling or walking – are still beneficial for blood sugar levels.

The NHS recommends everybody to engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.

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