What Time of the Day Should You Exercise with Prediabetes?

In 2019, the American Diabetes Association noted that 37.3 million Americans are living with diabetes. Recently scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Joslin Diabetes Center published new research on how people with type 2 diabetes can see improvements in their blood sugar level by exercising in the afternoon and evening. This article teaches you the best time to exercise to deal with your condition.

Afternoon Exercise Can Help with Greater Blood Sugar Control

The first study used data from the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study. This was a randomized controlled trial that compared how an intensive lifestyle intervention, combined with education and support, could help prevent cardiovascular disease for type 2 diabetes patients also living with obesity.

For the current study, the researchers examined how exercise at specific times of the day influenced blood sugar control. Altogether, they included 2,400 people and examined data from the first and fourth years of the Look AHEAD study. Upon review of the test’s data, the team found that in the first year, people who had moderate-to-vigorous levels of activity in the afternoon experienced the most reduction in their blood sugar level.

Why Afternoon Exercise Is Better

Dr. Jingyi Qian, from the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Massachusetts Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said it is unclear why afternoon exercise might be better for type 2 diabetes.

However, he also said the circadian system might play a role. Qian said this is because it regulates multiple physiological functions in your body, which could play a role in the time-specific benefits of physical activity.

Why Exercise, in General, Is Good for Managing Diabetes

While specific benefits were identified with afternoon exercise, the authors noted that exercise any time of the day is helpful for type 2 diabetes patients.

Dr. Kathleen Dungan, Professor of Medicine and Interim Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at The Ohio State University, said exercise is vital for people with diabetes. She also said exercise can rapidly lower glucose by driving excess glucose into the skeletal muscle. Dungan also said the immediate effects of exercise can last for many hours after completion of the activity.


Amanda Beaver, MS, RDN, LD, said the amount of exercise you need will depend on its intensity. However, she said most people with diabetes are recommended to get 150 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week.