“In this study, we (showed) that adults with type 2 diabetes had the greatest improvement in glucose control when they were most active in the afternoon,” co-author Dr. Jingyi Qian, of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, said in a statement.
“We knew that physical activity is beneficial, but what our study adds is a new understanding that activity time can also be important,” added Qian.
READ THIS: Pre-diabetes: the younger you are, the higher your risk of dementia
A team of researchers at the Brigham and Joslin Diabetes Center studied data from more than 2,400 overweight people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who wore a waist accelerometry recording device – something that measures vibration or acceleration of movement – to measure their activity. physical. .
After reviewing data from the first year of the study, the researchers found that those who engaged in “moderate to vigorous” physical activity in the afternoon had the greatest reduction in blood glucose levels.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, examples of “moderate” activity include brisk walking, mowing the lawn with a lawnmower, and recreationally playing badminton, while “vigorous” activity includes walking, brisk running, basketball, or a game of football. or riding a bike at age 14. -16 miles per hour.
You can tell if you’re exercising at a moderate aerobic level if you can talk but not sing your favorite song, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When analyzing data from the fourth year of the study, the team found that those who exercised in the afternoon maintained a reduction in blood glucose levels and were more likely to be able to stop taking diabetes medications.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant or does not produce enough insulin, according to the World Health Organization.
Mainly found in adults, it is associated with advanced age, obesity, family history, sedentary lifestyle and race/ethnicity.
People with diabetes are at risk for complications, including nerve damage, vision and hearing problems, kidney disease, heart disease and premature death.
The study authors note that the observational study comes with limitations, as it did not measure sleep or diet.
“Time seems to matter,” said co-author Dr. Roeland Middelbeek, assistant investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center. “In the future, we may have more data and experimental evidence for patients to provide more personalized recommendations.”
Dr. Lucy Chambers, Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, said of the study: “Staying physically active can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of developing serious diabetes-related complications. , such as heart disease and kidney failure, as well as improving your general well-being.
Chambers, who was not involved in the study, emphasized the need for people to exercise where they can.
“This new research found that regular ‘moderate to vigorous’ physical activity – whether morning, midday, afternoon or evening – was associated with lower average blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. was linked with greater benefits, but the reasons for this are unclear and current evidence on optimal exercise times is mixed.
“If you live with type 2 diabetes, the most important thing is to find an exercise that you enjoy and that you can incorporate into your routine for the long term – whether that’s before work, at lunchtime or in the evening,” she added.
The team’s findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.
Sign up for CNN’s Fitness, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide will help you get into a healthy routine, with expert support.
For more CNN news and newsletters, create an account at CNN.com