Working Out in the Afternoon or Evening May Help Control Blood Sugars
Few would argue about the benefits of exercise to health and wellness. Exercise:
- Helps control weight
- Strengthens muscles and bone
- Boosts energy
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Controls blood pressure
- Improves balance
- Can aid sleep
For those with diabetes, there are additional benefits. Exercise lowers blood glucose levels and can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, thereby countering insulin resistance, writes Harvard Medical School. Research studies point to other benefits of exercise for diabetics, according to the medical institution:
- Exercise lowered HbA1c values by 0.7 percentage point in people of different ethnic groups with diabetes who were taking different medications and following a variety of diets.
- People with diabetes who walked at least two hours a week were less likely to die of heart disease than their sedentary counter- parts. The risk lowered even more for those who exercised three to four hours a week
- Women with diabetes who spent at least four hours a week doing moderate exercise (including walking) or vigorous exercise had a 40% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who did not exercise.
Does time of day make a difference?
Recent research indicates that time of day may be of further help in controlling blood sugars. The study, which was published in the journal Diabetologia last November, concluded that exercising between noon and midnight could significantly decrease resistance to insulin compared to exercising earlier in the day.
Insulin resistance is when cells in the muscles, fat, and liver struggle to respond to insulin and cannot easily take up glucose from the blood. The result is the pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter cells. If the pancreas can make enough insulin to overcome the weak response of the cells, blood glucose levels stay in the healthy range. However, when glucose levels rise too high, sugar remains in the bloodstream. 
The research consisted of 775 participants of the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity (NEO) study. Participants were categorized as most active in the morning, afternoon or evening or engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity evenly throughout the day.
Researchers found the number of daily breaks in sedentary time was not associated with lower liver fat content or reduced insulin resistance. Moderate-to-vigorous activity in the afternoon or evening was associated with a reduction of up to 25% in insulin resistance. 
Regarding the findings, one of the researchers indicated that they are just starting to understand the potential benefits of timing of physical activity. It is not known if everyone will benefit from changing their activities. Further studies are necessary before issuing clinical messages based on the team’s findings. 
 “The Importance of Exercise When You Have Diabetes,” Harvard Health Publishing, February 3, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-exercise-when-you-have-diabetes
 van der Velde JHPM, Boone SC, Winters-van Eekelen E, Hesselink MKC, Schrauwen-Hinderling VB, Schrauwen P, Lamb HJ, Rosendaal FR, de Mutsert R. Timing of physical activity in relation to liver fat content and insulin resistance. Diabetologia. 2022 Nov 1. doi: 10.1007/s00125-022-05813-3. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36316401. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36316401/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
 Kirby, Jane, “Exercise in the afternoon or evening ‘may’ be better for blood sugar control’,” Evening Standard, November 1, 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/exercise-in-the-afternoon-or-evening-may-be-better-for-blood-sugar-control/ar-AA13Dfvs
 Timing of physical activity in relation to liver fat content and insulin resistance.
 Citroner, George, “Working Out in the Afternoon May Control Blood Sugar,” Healthline, November 2, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/working-out-in-the-afternoon-or-evening-may-help-control-blood-sugar?slot_pos=article_1&apid=31785237&rvid=ff3682c0a5d675812854b627ce67e3a674b2214cecc85119663fda21af511fda