Are you struggling to figure out the perfect time to exercise because of your busy mornings? Well, if controlling blood sugar is the primary goal of your workout, then we have got some good news for you. As per recent research, these best exercises for blood sugar level control should be attempted at night.
Working out at specific intervals can be more beneficial in the fight against diabetes. According to a study published in the journal Diabetologia, the optimum time to exercise for better control over your blood sugar levels is between midday and midnight. The study, which followed a group of individuals with type 2 diabetes who exercised either in the morning or at night, stated, “Moderate-to-vigorous activity in the afternoon or evening was associated with a reduction of up to 25 per cent in insulin resistance.”
So now that you know what time of the day is more suitable to get moving, explore the various types of activities that can help you prevent diabetes. However, if you are suffering from high or low blood sugar levels, always consult a general physician before beginning any workout.
How does doing these exercises at night help stabilise blood sugar levels?
Diabetes and prediabetes are linked to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. When one’s blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, the person is considered prediabetic, according to Cleveland Clinic.
According to a 2021 study by Diabetes UK, exercising in the morning or evening induced similar improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, but nocturnal glycaemic control only improved in the evening exercise group. This is because, in individuals with type 2 diabetes, nighttime spikes in glucose are common. If you exercise before dinner, the insulin functions properly and helps in stabilising the sugar levels when one is asleep.
The best exercises for blood sugar control to try
According to Healthline, engaging in 15 minutes of simple to moderate physical activity, like walking after every meal, can significantly reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes throughout the day. The findings were based on research conducted on elderly people with pre-diabetes.
Additionally, a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association found that taking a quick walk after every meal, thrice a day, is just as effective at lowering blood glucose levels as taking a 45-minute-long walk at the same speed. It also revealed that taking an evening constitutional is significantly quicker than a morning walk, in reducing blood sugar after dinner. This is because an evening meal is usually the biggest meal of the day and can considerably increase one’s glucose levels.
Mounting more evidence in favour of evening walks, Healthfyi Me states that the muscles in our body use glucose present in our circulatory system when we walk or run. This, in turn, improves insulin function. Also, our heart pumps blood that contains sugar to our muscles when we walk after a meal. This consequently modifies chemical enzymes, enhancing glucose transport further and dropping sugar levels from the bloodstream.
Contrary to popular belief, aerobic exercises are not the only way to keep blood sugar levels in check. You can do the same with the help of strength training as well. According to a paper published in the Internal Journal of Cardiology, high-intensity weightlifting is far better than aerobic exercise for blood sugar control in individuals with insulin resistance.
The sugar and carbohydrates that we consume are stored in our muscles. Regular resistance training increases the ability of muscles to burn up these for fuel and thus, lower our blood sugar levels.
Exercise physiologist Nick Occhipinti explains, “As we go through a strength-training workout, we use stored muscle glycogen for fuel. Once this stored muscle glycogen runs out, we start to mobilise extra glycogen from the liver and the blood. This helps to directly decrease blood glucose as well as deplete stored muscle and liver glycogen stores, giving blood glucose a place to go next time we eat.”
Weightlifting also strengthens one’s heart health by boosting the amount of good cholesterol and lowering the level of bad cholesterol in their blood, adds Occhipinti. It aids in lowering hypertension, or high blood pressure, as per the findings of a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.
You can also pedal your way to good health by including cycling in your daily routine. This exercise is an excellent way to encourage the muscles to use up glucose and keep blood sugar levels stable. And the best part is that you can cycle no matter how old you are — whether you are in your 50s, 60s, or 70s.
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, cycling is linked with reduced mortality rates and lower levels of physiological risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and immobility.
In fact, another fairly recent study established that cycling on a regular basis can reduce mortality rates for those with diabetes by 24 per cent. Furthermore, if sustained for at least five years, regular cycling can reduce mortality rates by 35 per cent.
Also, another 2016 report conducted on a group of Danish adults found that type 2 diabetes can be controlled by both commuter and recreational cycling.
One of the best forms of exercise for those with diabetes is swimming. The aquatic activity is particularly recommended for those who have diabetic neuropathy, which causes numbness or loss of feeling in the feet. According to Diabetes UK, “Swimming is a great form of exercise for everyone, especially if you’re living with diabetes or are at risk of developing type 2 or gestational diabetes.”
Swimming frequently develops the muscles in the body, which aid in the management of diabetes by increasing the efficiency with which blood sugar is absorbed by your muscle cells, as per Apollo Sugar. Thus, this ranks high among the best exercise for blood sugar control.
Tai chi, an ancient Chinese form of martial art, can be an efficient method for individuals with type 2 diabetes to regulate their blood glucose and A1C levels, as per a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research. The slow, deliberate movements used in tai chi set it apart from the other kinds of physical activities that we have listed so far.
Besides promoting a better quality of life, practising tai chi has been shown to trigger a decline in blood glucose levels by improving metabolism.
Moreover, another report published in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, revealed that tai chi enhances balance and may lessen nerve damage, a common problem in diabetics with poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
In diabetic individuals, yoga can help to enhance the number of insulin receptors as well as the proportion of receptor binding. By lowering rising insulin levels and restoring the insulin-to-glucose ratio to normal, yoga can increase insulin kinetics, according to an Endocrinology and Metabolism research paper.
Surya Namaskar (sun salutation), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Paschimottanasana (seated-forward bend), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose), Bhujangasana (upward-facing dog pose) and Shavasana (corpse pose) are some asanas that make yoga one of the best exercises for blood sugar control for you.
Exercising at night can help in improving blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. However, it is important to pay close attention to how your body responds when beginning any new physical activity.
It is always advisable to test your blood sugar prior to exercising if you use insulin. To prevent hypoglycemia, you can have a small portion of fruit or a snack to raise the insulin level if it is below 100 mg/dL before your workout, according to Mayo Clinic. Checking your blood sugar after taxing exercise is also beneficial.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Yes, exercising at night lowers nocturnal spikes in glucose. This prevents the level of blood sugar from peaking while you’re asleep at night.
Answer: You can lower your blood sugar levels overnight by going for a stroll after dinner or undertaking some other kind of physical activity, such as cycling or swimming, depending on your body type.
Answer: Yes, walking at night can lower blood sugar as muscles in our body use circulatory glucose when we walk or run, which improves insulin function. Since dinner may considerably increase glucose levels, walking after your meal helps in lowering it.
Answer: According to 'Healthline', the fastest way to lower blood sugar is to take a fast-acting insulin.