We are all well aware of the importance of exercise. Regular physical activity is vital for not only maintaining a healthy weight but for lowering our risk of dangerous conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.

It can also help protect against type 2 diabetes, a condition more than three million people in the UK are at risk of.

To reap these benefits, the NHS advises that we should all be exercising daily and for at least 150 minutes a week.

But new research has suggested exercising at a specific time of day could be best for those looking to control their blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes.

According to a study published in Obesity journal, exercising in the evening is most effective for lowering blood sugar levels.

This was found to be the case in overweight or obese adults when they engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity in the evening.

The research team explained that it was already established that this level of exercise enhances glucose homeostasis – controlled blood sugar levels.

But, they said, less is known about the optimal timing of moderate to vigorous physical activity to improve daily blood glucose control.

Study author Jonatan R Ruiz, from the University of Granada in Spain, explained: “Our results highlight the importance of the field of precision exercise prescription.

“In clinical practice, certified sports and medical personnel should consider the optimal timing of the day to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise and physical activity programs they prescribe.”

A total of 186 adults with an average age of 46 years who were classed as overweight or obese participated in the cross-sectional study.

The physical activity and glucose patterns of participants were simultaneously monitored over two weeks using devices.

Results showed that accumulating greater than 50 percent of moderate to vigorous physical activity in the evening was associated with lowering day, night and overall blood glucose levels compared with being inactive.

This association was stronger in those participants with impaired glucose regulation. The pattern of these associations was similar in both men and women.

Renee J Rogers, senior scientist from the University of Kansas Medical Centre – who was not involved in the research, told Eureka Alert: “As the field moves towards individualised exercise prescriptions for different chronic conditions, this study now provides additional insights beyond just telling patients to ‘move more,’ but instead to move as often as possible and to prioritise afternoon-to-evening movement when feasible for glucose regulation.”

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1, affecting around 90 percent of cases.

Common risk factors for the condition include being overweight or obese and a lack of physical activity, however, it can also run in families.

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