Effect of Exercise Intensity on Glucose and Insulin Metabolism in Obese Individuals and Obese NIDDM Patients

  1. Alan C Utter, MS
  1. Department of Health and Physical Education, School of Education University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  2. Department of Preventive Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  3. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jie Kang, PhD, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Rowan College of New Jersey, Glassboro, NJ 08028. E-mail: kang{at}heroes.rowan.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the acute effect of exercise of differing intensity on plasma glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose challenge.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Six obese men and six obese men with NIDDM of similar age, weight, percentage body fat, and Vo2peak participated in the study. Each subject underwent two 7-day exercise programs in a counterbalanced order at 2-week intervals. During each 7-day exercise period, the subjects cycled every day at a power output corresponding to 50% Vo2peak for 70 min or 70% Vo2peak for 50 min. Muscle glycogen utilization was estimated during exercise on day 7 using a [3H]glucose infusion technique in conjunction with indirect calorimetry. During the day before and after each 7-day exercise period, a 3-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was administered after a 12-h overnight fast.

RESULTS The average caloric expenditure did not differ between exercise at 50 and 70% Vo2peak in both obese and obese NIDDM subjects. However, the carbohydrate oxidation was higher (P < 0.05) during exercise at 70 than 50% Vo2peak in obese subjects (77 ± 5 vs. 68 ± 6 g) and obese NIDDM subjects (70 ± 4 vs. 58 ± 6 g). Muscle glycogen utilization was also higher (P < 0.05) during exercise at 70 than 50% Vo2peak in obese subjects (59 ± 9 vs. 30 ± 7 g) and in obese NIDDM subjects (48 ± 5 vs. 24 ± 5 g). In obese subjects, plasma glucose response area during the OGTT did not change after 7 days of exercise at either 50 or 70% Vo2peak. Plasma insulin response area during the OGTT also did not change after 7 days of exercise at 50% Vo2peak. However, plasma insulin response area was reduced (P < 0.05) after 7 days of exercise at 70% Vo2peak (9,644 ± 1,783 vs. 7,538 ± 1,522 μ· ml"1 · 180 min"1). In obese NIDDM subjects, both plasma glucose and insulin response areas during the OGTT did not decrease after 7 days of exercise at either 50 or 70% Vo2peak.

CONCLUSIONS It is concluded that the exercise-induced improvement in insulin sensitivity is influenced by exercise intensity in obese individuals. The improved insulin sensitivity after 7 days of exercise at 70% Vo2peak in obese individuals may be related to greater muscle glycogen utilization during exercise. The lack of improvement in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity after 7 days of exercise at either 50 or 70% Vo2peak in obese NIDDM patients may be due to the fact that the NIDDM patients selected in the present study were relatively hypoinsulinemic.

  • Received July 13, 1995.
  • Accepted November 11, 1995.
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