Exercising for Metabolic Control: Is Timing Important?

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Atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus are leading causes of mortality in the world and both disorders are closely related to the postprandial phenomena. Regular exercise is being strongly advocated as a precious tool in easing the global burden of chronic disease. Although exercise intensity, duration and frequency are well established in current guidelines for healthy and diabetic individuals, there is still no consensus on the optimal timing of exercise in relation to the last meal. The present paper reviews the existing literature on the ‘when?’ of aerobic exercise for metabolic control in healthy and diabetic individuals. Effective control of postprandial phenomena might prove to be a useful tool in the prevention of chronic disease. Exercise appears to influence glycemic and triglyceridemic responses differently depending on the meal composition and time lapse from meals. In healthy individuals, fasted-state exercise favors postprandial triglyceridemic control and the insulin sensitivity related to it. However, there is a lack of data on this matter in diabetic patients. On the other hand, when postprandial glycemia is of concern, aerobic exercise works better when performed after a meal, both in healthy and in diabetic patients.

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