Managing type 2 diabetes: Is afternoon exercise the key?

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Type 2 diabetes is a significant health issue, affecting more than 37 million Americans. Healthy eating and regular physical activity are critical ways to manage this condition.

A new study now suggests that not just activity, but the timing of the activity, might be important in controlling blood glucose levels.

The Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes

In the United States, over 37 million people suffer from diabetes. A staggering 90-95% of these cases are type 2 diabetes.

The primary method to manage this condition involves lifestyle changes, such as adopting 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 the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, and Joslin Diabetes Center, a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health.

The research team used data from a previous study called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes), which had examined lifestyle interventions for managing type 2 diabetes.

In this study, the researchers looked at whether physical activity at specific times of the day was linked to better blood glucose control.

They found that patients who were physically active in the afternoon showed the most significant improvements in glucose control after a year.

The results of this study were published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Why Timing Might Matter

“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,” said co-corresponding author Jingyi Qian, Ph.D.

Regular physical activity helps manage blood glucose levels, which is crucial as 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 from the Look AHEAD study. The participants wore a waist accelerometry device to measure physical activity.

Those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in the afternoon showed the greatest reduction in blood glucose levels.

After four years, these participants maintained their glucose control and had the highest chance of stopping their diabetes medications.

Looking Forward

Despite these promising findings, the researchers note some limitations to their study.

It was observational and didn’t account for other factors like sleep and dietary intake that could affect the results.

Future studies will test these findings experimentally to better understand why the time of day might influence blood glucose control.

“Timing does seem to matter,” said co-corresponding author Roeland Middelbeek, MD.

As we gather more data and experimental evidence, we might be able to provide more personalized recommendations for physical activity to patients with type 2 diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that MIND diet may reduce risk of vision loss disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with diabetic neuropathic pain.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that Vitamin E could help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance in diabetes, and results showing eating eggs in a healthy diet may reduce risks of diabetes, high blood pressure.

The study was published in Diabetes Care.

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