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Exercise in the Evening Linked to Better Health Outcomes for Obesity Patients

When is the best time of day to work out? According to new research, exercising at night may be especially advantageous for those who are obese.

Data from about 30,000 obese individuals were used in the study, which was published on April 10 in the journal Diabetes Care. Of these, 10% also had type 2 diabetes. The study’s participants had the lowest risk of heart disease and early mortality if they completed the majority of their aerobic exercise between 6 p.m. and midnight.

Study author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney, stated in a press release that
“While we need to do further research to establish causal links, this study suggests that the timing of physical activity could be an important part of the recommendations for future obesity and type 2 diabetes management, and preventive healthcare in general,”

Exercising anytime you can is a good idea, experts stressed, even though working out at night may benefit those with type 2 diabetes and obesity more.

The head of UCLA Health’s Gonda Diabetes Center and endocrinologist Matthew Freeby, MD, told Health that “yes, in a perfect world, maybe evening is best.” “But if we can’t get it in the evening, there are still benefits even at other times of the day.”

Here are some things to consider before modifying your exercise regimen, as well as how researchers believe the timing of exercise can affect the health of those who have type 2 diabetes and obesity.

How Your Exercise Schedule May Affect Your Health

Previous studies have linked exercise in the evening to improved health outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, the authors of this new study intended to investigate this theory more thoroughly, particularly finding out more about the potential long-term effects of exercise scheduling on people’s health.

The group made use of information from 29,836 participants in the UK Biobank database. In addition to type 2 diabetes, almost 3,000 of them were obese. The participants were roughly 53% female and average age was 62 years.

Participants wore a wrist accelerometer continuously for a week in order to allow researchers to precisely monitor their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).1. This covers a variety of activities that raise heart rate, such as cycling, jogging, or vigorous walking in addition to gardening.

The study’s authors used this information to examine how frequently participants worked out and divided them into three groups according to whether they obtained the majority of their MVPA in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening.

Researchers discovered that individuals who received the most of their MVPA at night had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality, and microvascular disease—a form of heart disease that affects the tiny, branched-off arteries—after following the participants’ health for almost eight years.

These results were also shown in the subgroup of patients who also had type 2 diabetes and obesity; in fact, the study authors found that nighttime exercise was even more strongly related with lower cardiovascular morbidity and death in this group.

Working out at any time of day was related with a lower risk of these adverse outcomes compared to not engaging in any aerobic activity at all, even if midnight MVPA was linked to the largest health benefits.

The study was observational, which means bias may have been present, and it did not establish a link between working out at night and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, microvascular illnesses, or all-cause mortality.

The precise reason why working out at night was linked to these advantages is unknown to experts. However, the scientists hypothesized that exercise during the night may result in reduced blood glucose levels in the morning, which may have positive metabolic effects.

The authors of the study recommended greater investigation to learn more about the connection between exercising at night and a lower risk of death and heart disease, particularly if the two are related.

Is It Time to Modify Your Exercise Routine?

In general, people should engage in two days of muscle-strengthening exercise in addition to 150 minutes of MVPA per week.4 According to Freeby, this can be divided into five 30-minute sessions.

Therefore, an individual with type 2 diabetes or obesity who can fit in that exercise between 6 p.m. and midnight would want to give it a shot.

Though there are many reasons why someone might find it difficult to exercise, Emily Nosova, MD, an assistant professor of endocrinology at Mount Sinai, cautioned that this regimen might not be feasible for everyone.

Alternatively, shorter physical activity sessions at any time of day can still be helpful.

“The vast majority of my patients have sedentary jobs; that’s the reality of our current culture and lifestyle,” Nosova stated. “If there’s any way to get up once an hour and walk around or climb the stairs, then you should absolutely [do that].”

Therefore, Freeby continued, it’s critical to avoid offering any general advice that will deter individuals from exercising when they can. Exercise or busting at night is not recommended for obese individuals.

He remarked, “Logistically speaking, everyone is busy.” “Exercise has benefits regardless of when you do it. If it’s only going to happen in the morning? Go ahead. Lunchtime? Also great. It really does come down to the individual patient doing it when possible.”

There are a few things to consider when planning your start if you want to incorporate more physical exercise into your routine, whether it be during the day or at night, according to experts.

“For someone who’s out of practice, I would recommend starting with some amount of supervision, like a personal trainer or a friend who can help monitor vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate,” Nosova added.

She went on to say that this is particularly true for those who are overweight, obese, or have type 2 diabetes because they may also have other health issues like hypertension that can be impacted by exercise. According to Freeby, people should always stop if they get heart palpitations, dizziness, or just don’t feel like they can go on.

Additionally, he advised that you discuss any new fitness regimen with your healthcare doctors so they can go over any particular danger flags to watch out for.

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