Invited review: Effects of acute exercise and exercise training on insulin resistance

Erik J. Henriksen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

383 Scopus citations


Insulin resistance of skeletal muscle glucose transport is a key defect in the development of impaired glucose tolerance and Type 2 diabetes. It is well established that both an acute bout of exercise and chronic endurance exercise training can have beneficial effects on insulin action in insulin-resistant states. This review summarizes the present state of knowledge regarding these effects in the obese Zucker rat, a widely used rodent model of obesity-associated insulin resistance, and in insulin-resistant humans with impaired glucose tolerance or Type 2 diabetes. A single bout of prolonged aerobic exercise (30-60 min at ∼60-70% of maximal oxygen consumption) can significantly lower plasma glucose levels, owing to normal contraction-induced stimulation of GLUT-4 glucose transporter translocation and glucose transport activity in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. However, little is currently known about the effects of acute exercise on muscle insulin signaling in the postexercise state in insulin-resistant individuals. A well-established adaptive response to exercise training in conditions of insulin resistance is improved glucose tolerance and enhanced skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity of glucose transport. This training-induced enhancement of insulin action is associated with upregulation of specific components of the glucose transport system in insulin-resistant muscle and includes increased protein expression of GLUT-4 and insulin receptor substrate-1. It is clear that further investigations are needed to further elucidate the specific molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of acute exercise and exercise training on the glucose transport system in insulin-resistant mammalian skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)788-796
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Obese Zucker rat
  • Skeletal muscle glucose transport
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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