Glucose, exercise and insulin: emerging concepts

J Physiol. 2001 Sep 1;535(Pt 2):313-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.2001.t01-2-00313.x.


Physical exercise induces a rapid increase in the rate of glucose uptake in the contracting skeletal muscles. The enhanced membrane glucose transport capacity is caused by a recruitment of glucose transporters (GLUT4) to the sarcolemma and t-tubules. This review summarises the recent progress in the understanding of signals that trigger GLUT4 translocation in contracting muscle. The possible involvement of calcium, protein kinase C (PKC), nitric oxide (NO), glycogen and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) are discussed. Furthermore, the possible mechanisms behind the well-described improvement of insulin action on glucose uptake and glycogen synthase activity in the post-exercise period is discussed. It is concluded that both during and following muscle contractions, glycogen emerges as an important modulator of signalling events in glucose metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Glucose