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

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Aug;93(2):788-96. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01219.2001.


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 approximately 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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Insulin