What Working Out Late In The Day Can Do For Your Health

Experts have long known that exercise improves several facets of our health. The National Institute on Aging (NIH) reports that just about anyone can benefit from exercise. Along with building stronger muscles, regular exercise gives you more energy, reduces stress and anxiety, helps control blood pressure, and can even help prevent or manage other conditions like heart disease, arthritis, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

That said, not many studies have explored how or if timing impacts any of the benefits of exercise. Many medical professionals agree that the best time of day to exercise is the one that fits your lifestyle and can become part of a regular schedule (via American Heart Association). And while it is good to work in physical activity whenever we can, evidence emerging from a study conducted in the Netherlands suggests that exercising later in the day may have a positive impact on your health.

Exercising later in the day was linked to lower insulin resistance

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, followed 775 participants between 2008 and 2012 with an average body mass index of 26.2, meaning that they were either overweight or obese. Participants were an average age of 56, and 58% were female and 42% were male. Individuals were divided into three groups based on the amount of exercise they performed between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. and midnight. Results showed that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in the afternoon was linked with an 18% reduction in insulin resistance, and a 25% reduction was associated with those who exercised in the evening.   

These findings are significant because insulin resistance is what happens when cells in our body don't respond to insulin. High levels of insulin can result in high blood sugar, which is closely linked with type 2 diabetes, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While researchers noted that more research was needed, they said the study suggested timing of exercise might be relevant for those who have type 2 diabetes.