Is afternoon exercise the key?
Type 2 diabetes is a significant health problem affecting more than 37 million Americans. Eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity are important ways to treat this condition.
A new study now suggests that not only activity but also timing of activity may be important in controlling blood sugar levels.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes
In the United States, over 37 million people have diabetes. A staggering 90-95% of these cases are type 2 diabetes.
The primary method of treating this condition is through lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
A new study on diabetes management
The new study is a collaboration between researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, part of Mass General Brigham’s health system, and the Joslin Diabetes Center, part of Beth Israel Lahey Health.
The research team used data from a previous study called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) that looked at lifestyle interventions to treat type 2 diabetes.
In this study, researchers looked at whether physical activity at certain times of the day was associated with better blood sugar control.
They found that patients who were physically active in the afternoon showed the most significant improvements in glucose control after one year.
The results of this study were published in the journal Diabetes Care.
Why timing might matter
“We knew that physical activity is beneficial, but what our study adds is a new understanding that timing of activity can also be important,” said co-author Jingyi Qian, Ph.D.
Regular physical activity helps control blood sugar levels, which is crucial because elevated levels can increase the risk of heart disease, vision problems, and kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
The research team analyzed data from over 2,400 participants in the Look AHEAD study. Participants wore a waist acceleration device to measure their physical activity.
Those who engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity in the afternoon showed the greatest decreases in blood sugar levels.
After four years, these participants maintained their glucose control and had the highest chance of stopping their diabetes medication.
I’m looking forward to
Despite these promising results, the researchers note some limitations of their study.
It was an observational study that did not take into account other factors that could affect the results, such as sleep and food intake.
Future studies will experimentally test these results to better understand why time of day might affect glycemic control.
“Timing seems to play a role,” said co-correspondent author Dr. Roeland Middelbeek.
As we gather more data and experimental evidence, we may be able to provide more individualized physical activity recommendations for patients with type 2 diabetes.
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The study was published in diabetes care.
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