If getting fit is on your to-do list this year, you might want to take notes on the best time of day to exercise. A new study compared two groups of men with a high risk for Type 2 diabetes and found that the group that completed workouts in the afternoon improved their metabolic health far better than the group who performed the same exercise in the morning.
To test whether the timing of exercise affects long-term metabolic health training, thirty-two 60 to 70-year-old men were studied, with twelve men allocated to the morning workout group, and twenty in the afternoon workout group. The volunteers were then enrolled in an aerobic and resistance-type exercise program for 12 weeks, three sessions per week.
The researchers found that not only did men who worked out in the afternoon improve their skeletal muscles and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity, but they also had a larger decline in fat mass and improved exercise performance better compared to the morning training group.
While the study doesn't explain why this phenomenon happens, Dr Patrick Schrauwen told New York Times that it could be because exercising in the afternoon helps to metabolise people’s last meals before bedtime, leaving our bodies in a fasted state as we sleep, which helps to synchronise body clocks and metabolisms.
Similarly, a 2019 study found that men with Type 2 diabetes were able to improve their blood-sugar control after completing just a few minutes of high-intensity interval exercises in the afternoon. When they were asked to do the same exercise in the morning, working out actually backfired and caused a spike in their blood sugar levels.
In Hong Kong, diabetes was the tenth most common cause of death, accounting for one per cent of all registered deaths in 2018. To prevent diabetes, a balanced diet, regular exercise and excessive alcohol consumption is recommended, according to the Department of Health.
Next time you’re planning your workout, remember to slot it in for the afternoon—better safe than sorry, right?