Effects of intensity and amount of exercise on measures of insulin and glucose: Analysis of inter-individual variability

Aim

To determine the separate effects of exercise amount and intensity on the rate of response for glucose and insulin variables, where rate of response was defined as the number of individuals with improvement in glucose and insulin values that was beyond the day-to-day variability of measurement.

Methods

Participants were 171 sedentary, middle-aged abdominally obese adults who completed a 24-week intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to (1) no-exercise control (n = 51), (2) low-amount, low-intensity exercise (LALI, n = 38), (3) high-amount, low-intensity exercise (HALI, n = 52), or (4) high-amount, high-intensity exercise (HAHI, n = 30). Two-hour glucose, insulin area under the curve (AUC), and fasting insulin were measured during a 2-hour, 75g oral glucose challenge. The day-to-day variability for these measures was calculated to be ±2.2 mmol/L, ±940.2 pmol/L, and ±38.9 pmol/L, respectively.

Results

At 24 weeks, the number of nonresponders for 2-hr glucose was 98.0%, 86.8%, 94.2%, 86.7% in the control, LALI, HALI, and HAHI groups, respectively. The number of nonresponders for insulin AUC was 88.0%, 75.7%, 75.0%, 80.0% in the control, LALI, HALI, and HAHI groups, respectively. The number of nonresponders for fasting insulin was 88.2%, 84.2%, 84.6%, 93.3% in the control, LALI, HALI, and HAHI groups, respectively. The rate of response was not different between control and any of the exercise groups for any measure (p>0.05).

Conclusion

The improvement in glucose and insulin measures did not exceed the day-to-day variability of measurement for approximately 80% of the participants independent of exercise amount or intensity.