The best time of day to exercise if you want to prevent type 2 diabetes

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According to a new study, exercising in the morning or afternoon is better than the evening for preventing type 2 diabetes.

The study comes days after research that claimed exercising in the morning is the best time to lose weight. 

Researchers found daytime physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of a person’s age, income or education.

But there was no statistically significant link between evening exercise and diabetes risk, according to the findings published in the journal Diabetologia.

Dr Caiwei Tian, of Harvard University in the US, and Dr Chirag Patel, of Harvard Medical School, and their colleagues analysed the relationship between morning, afternoon, or evening physical activity and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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More than 93 British people with an average age of 62 and with no history of type 2 diabetes participated in the study and wore a wrist-worn accelerometer for a week.

The research team then converted information from the accelerometers to estimate metabolic equivalent of task, or MET, a common measure of physical activity.

They explained that MET-hour physical activity captures all types of activity undertaken by a person throughout the day and measured with the accelerometer, including chores, walking, and vigorous activity.

They also took into account the intensity of exercise: moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) in association with type 2 diabetes.

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The researchers noted protective associations of physical activity, with each one-unit increase in MET being associated with a 10 per cent and nine per cent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes in the morning and afternoon, respectively.

But there was no statistically significant association between evening physical activity and diabetes risk.

The researchers believed that lifestyle factors – such as amount of sleep and diet – would influence the amount of physical activity in the morning, afternoon, and evening undertaken, and therefore the role activity has in diabetes risk.

They found that when adjusting for lifestyle factors, associations for MET-hours with different times of day became more precise.

Dr Tian said: “Consistency of MET-measured physical activity was not associated with type 2 diabetes; but intensity was – both MVPA and VPA were associated with decreased risk for type 2 diabetes at all times of the day.”

Dr Tian continued: “The consistency or routine of physical activity was not strongly associated with type 2 diabetes.

“In other words, individuals who exercise a smaller amount of time more frequently are at no lesser risk for diabetes than individuals who exercise the same total amount, but with less of a routine.”

Dr Patel said: “Our findings support that total physical activity but not its consistency over the week may be an important factor impacting type 2 diabetes risk.

“The timing of activity may play a role in mitigation of diabetes risk.”

He added: “Our study showed an association with diabetes risk between morning and afternoon versus evening physical activity.

“The findings also suggest it is helpful to include some higher intensity activity to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other cardiovascular disease.”

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