Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a combined resistance and aerobic training program would improve insulin sensitivity compared with aerobic training alone in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. A second objective was to relate the improved insulin sensitivity to changes in abdominal adipose tissue (AT) and thigh muscle density.
Research design and methods: A total of 28 obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to one of three 16-week treatments: control, aerobic only training (Ae only), or aerobic plus resistance training (Ae+RT). Pre- and posttreatment outcome measures included glucose disposal by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and computed tomography scans of abdominal AT and mid-thigh skeletal muscle.
Results: Glucose infusion rates increased significantly (P < 0.05) in the Ae+RT group. Both exercise groups had reduced abdominal subcutaneous and visceral AT and increased muscle density. The Ae+RT training group exhibited a significantly greater increase in muscle density than the Ae only group. Improved glucose disposal was independently associated with changes in subcutaneous AT, visceral AT, and muscle density. Muscle density retained a relationship with glucose disposal after controlling for abdominal AT.
Conclusions: Adding resistance training to aerobic training enhanced glucose disposal in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. The improved insulin sensitivity is related to loss of abdominal subcutaneous and visceral AT and to increased muscle density.