APR 18, 2024 7:15 PM PDT

Timing of Exercise Throughout Day May Change Health Outcomes

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that exercising later in the day has greater health benefits for people with obesity.

The study included nearly 30,000 participants who were diagnosed with obesity, and a subset of the participants (about 3,000) were also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. During the study, participants wore a wrist-worn accelerometer to measure activity levels for a seven-day period. Their aerobic moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) periods were measured, and participants were categorized as morning, afternoon, or evening exercisers. Then, participants were followed-up with for an average of nearly eight years, during which they were monitored for cardiovascular disease, microvascular disease, and death. The goal of the study was to see whether the timing of physical activity throughout the day could affect those health outcomes.

The results showed that participants who were classified as evening exercisers, defined as exercising between 6pm and midnight, had the lowest risk of developing cardiovascular disease and the lowest risk of death from any cause. They also had the lowest risk of developing microvascular disease. Findings were similar whether or not the participant had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

While the results of this study are observational and cannot determine cause and effect, the results suggest that evening exercise may lead to better health outcomes. The authors pointed out that they did not discriminate regarding the type of exercise, so it could be anything from taking the stairs in the evening to a more structured evening exercise routine. The only important factor was that the exercise increased the participants’ heart rates. While the mechanism of this effect is unknown, the authors hypothesized that evening exercise may offset the glucose intolerance that tends to develop in evenings and thereby lead to better heart and overall health.

Sources: Diabetes Care, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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