Physical activity enhances insulin action in obese/overweight individuals. However, the exercise prescription required for the optimal enhancement is not known. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that exercise training consisting of vigorous-intensity activity would enhance insulin sensitivity more substantially than moderate-intensity activity. Sedentary, overweight/obese subjects (n = 154) were randomly assigned to either control or an exercise group for 6 mo: 1) low-volume/moderate-intensity group [∼12 miles walking/wk at 40–55% peak O2 consumption (V̇o2 peak)], 2) low-volume/high-intensity group (∼12 miles jogging/wk at 65–80% V̇o2 peak), and 3) high-volume/high-intensity group (∼20 miles jogging/wk at 65–80% V̇o2 peak). Training volume (miles/wk) was achieved by exercising ∼115 min/wk (low-volume/high-intensity group) or ∼170 min/wk (low-volume/moderate-intensity and high-volume/high-intensity groups). Insulin action was measured with an insulin sensitivity index (SI) from an intravenous glucose tolerance test. In the control group, there was a decrement (P < 0.05) in SI. In contrast, all the exercise groups significantly (P < 0.05) increased SI; the relative increment in the low-volume/moderate-intensity and high-volume/high-intensity groups (∼85%) were greater than in the low-volume/high-intensity group (∼40%). In conclusion, physical activity encompassing a wide range of intensity and volume minimizes the insulin resistance that develops with a sedentary lifestyle. However, an exercise prescription that incorporated ∼170 min of exercise/wk improved insulin sensitivity more substantially than a program utilizing ∼115 min of exercise/wk, regardless of exercise intensity and volume. Total exercise duration should thus be considered when designing training programs with the intent of improving insulin action.
- cardiovascular disease
- Copyright © 2004 the American Physiological Society