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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jan;99(1):220-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-2687. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Effects of exercise intensity on postprandial improvement in glucose disposal and insulin sensitivity in prediabetic adults.

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  • 1Department of Human Services (C.A.R., A.W.), Exercise Physiology Core Laboratory (J.Y.W., A.W.), Diabetes Technology Center (B.J., M.B.), Department of Public Health Sciences (J.P.), and Department of Medicine (E.J.B., A.W.), University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904.



A single bout of exercise improves postprandial glycemia and insulin sensitivity in prediabetic patients; however, the impact of exercise intensity is not well understood. The present study compared the effects of acute isocaloric moderate (MIE) and high-intensity (HIE) exercise on glucose disposal and insulin sensitivity in prediabetic adults.


Subjects (n=18; age 49±14 y; fasting glucose 105±11 mg/dL; 2 h glucose 170±32 mg/dL) completed a peak O2 consumption/lactate threshold (LT) protocol plus three randomly assigned conditions: 1) control, 1 hour of seated rest, 2) MIE (at LT), and 3) HIE (75% of difference between LT and peak O2 consumption). One hour after exercise, subjects received an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Plasma glucose, insulin, and C-peptide concentrations were sampled at 5- to 10-minute intervals at baseline, during exercise, after exercise, and for 3 hours after glucose ingestion. Total, early-phase, and late-phase area under the glucose and insulin response curves were compared between conditions. Indices of insulin sensitivity (SI) were derived from OGTT data using the oral minimal model.


Compared with control, SI improved by 51% (P=.02) and 85% (P<.001) on the MIE and HIE days, respectively. No differences in SI were observed between the exercise conditions (P=.62). Improvements in SI corresponded to significant reductions in the glucose, insulin, and C-peptide area under the curve values during the late phase of the OGTT after HIE (P<.05), with only a trend for reductions after MIE.


These results suggest that in prediabetic adults, acute exercise has an immediate and intensity-dependent effect on improving postprandial glycemia and insulin sensitivity.

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