European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 95, Issue 5–6, pp 522–528 | Cite as

The effects of 24 weeks of moderate- or high-intensity exercise on insulin resistance

  • Gary O’DonovanEmail author
  • Edward M. Kearney
  • Alan M. Nevill
  • Kate Woolf-May
  • Steve R. Bird
Original Article


This study was designed to investigate the effect of exercise intensity on insulin resistance by comparing moderate- and high-intensity interventions of equal energy cost. Maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), insulin, glucose and triglycerides were measured in 64 sedentary men before random allocation to a non-exercise control group, a moderate-intensity exercise group (three 400-kcal sessions per week at 60% of VO2max) or a high-intensity exercise group (three 400-kcal sessions per week at 80% of VO2max). An insulin sensitivity score was derived from fasting concentrations of insulin and triglycerides, and insulin resistance was assessed using the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Data were available for 36 men who finished the study. After 24 weeks, insulin concentration decreased by 2.54±4.09 and 2.37±3.35 mU l−1, insulin sensitivity score increased by 0.91±1.52 and 0.79±1.37, and HOMA-IR decreased by −0.6±0.8 and −0.5±0.8 in the moderate- and high-intensity exercise groups, respectively. When data from the exercise groups were combined, one-way analysis of variance with one-tailed post hoc comparisons indicated that these changes were significantly greater than those observed in the control group (all P<0.05). Twenty-four week changes in insulin concentration, insulin sensitivity score and HOMA-IR were not significantly different between the exercise groups. These data suggest that exercise training is accompanied by a significant reduction in insulin resistance, as indicated by well-validated surrogate measures. These data also suggest that moderate-intensity exercise is as effective as high-intensity exercise when 400 kcal are expended per session.


Training Dose–response Insulin sensitivity Diabetes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary O’Donovan
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Edward M. Kearney
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alan M. Nevill
    • 3
  • Kate Woolf-May
    • 1
  • Steve R. Bird
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure, Canterbury Christ ChurchUniversity CollegeCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Department of Clinical BiochemistryQueen Elizabeth the Queen Mother HospitalMargateUK
  3. 3.School of Sport, Performing Arts and LeisureUniversity of WolverhamptonWalsallUK
  4. 4.Centre for Population Health in the WestSunshine Hospital and Melbourne UniversityVictoriaAUSTRALIA
  5. 5.School of Sport and EducationBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

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