Circadian rhythms and exercise - re-setting the clock in metabolic disease

Brendan Gabriel, Juleen R. Zierath* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


Perturbed diurnal rhythms are becoming increasingly evident as deleterious events in the pathology of metabolic diseases. Exercise is well characterized as a crucial intervention in the prevention and treatment of individuals with metabolic diseases. Little is known, however, regarding optimizing the timing of exercise bouts in order to maximize their health benefits. Furthermore, exercise is a potent modulator of skeletal muscle metabolism, and it is clear that skeletal muscle has a strong circadian profile. In humans, mitochondrial function peaks in the late afternoon, and the circadian clock might be inherently impaired in myotubes from patients with metabolic disease. Timing exercise bouts to coordinate with an individual’s circadian rhythms might be an efficacious strategy to optimize the health benefits of exercise. The role of exercise as a Zeitgeber can also be used as a tool in combating metabolic disease. Shift work is known to induce acute insulin resistance, and appropriately timed exercise might improve health markers in shift workers who are at risk of metabolic disease. In this Review, we discuss the literature regarding diurnal skeletal muscle metabolism and the interaction with exercise bouts at different times of the day to combat metabolic disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages14
JournalNature reviews. Endocrinology
Early online date17 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Circadian rhythms and sleep
  • metabolic syndrome
  • quality of life
  • weight management


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