Evening physical activity shows greater health benefits for individuals with obesity

Evening physical activity to lower risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease


Engaging in the majority of daily physical activity in the evening may yield the greatest health benefits for individuals living with obesity. According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, individuals who primarily engaged in aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) between 6pm and midnight demonstrated the lowest risk of premature death and death from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the frequency of engaging in MVPA in the evening appeared to be more crucial than the total amount of physical activity completed each day.

Dr. Angelo Sabag, a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney, emphasized the significance of these findings, particularly for individuals with excess weight or obesity, who are at a heightened risk of cardiovascular conditions and premature death. He noted that while exercise is not the sole solution to the obesity crisis, the research suggests that strategically planning physical activity at specific times of the day may help mitigate some of these health risks.

The study, which tracked the physical activity patterns of 30,000 participants over nearly 8 years, also highlighted the importance of continuous aerobic MVPA in bouts of 3 minutes or more, as previous research has demonstrated a strong association between this type of activity, glucose control, and reduced cardiovascular disease risk compared to shorter non-aerobic bouts.

The researchers utilized data from the UK Biobank, including information from 29,836 adults over 40 years of age living with obesity, with 2,995 participants also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. By categorizing participants into morning, afternoon, or evening MVPA based on their physical activity patterns, the team then linked this data to the participants' health trajectory over 7.9 years.

Over the study period, the researchers recorded 1,425 deaths, 3,980 cardiovascular events, and 2,162 microvascular dysfunction events. To ensure the validity of their findings, the researchers accounted for various factors such as age, sex, lifestyle habits, and excluded participants with pre-existing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Dr. Matthew Ahmadi, a National Heart Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at the Charles Perkins Centre, highlighted that the study did not solely track structured exercise but rather focused on continuous aerobic MVPA, which could include activities such as power walking, climbing stairs, or even vigorously cleaning the house.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, Director of the Mackenzie Wearables Research Hub at the Charles Perkins Centre, stressed the significance of wearable device-captured data in providing valuable insights into the patterns of activity that are most beneficial for health. He noted that these findings suggest the timing of physical activity could play an important role in future obesity and Type 2 diabetes management, as well as preventive healthcare in general.

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