Aerobic training improves insulin sensitivity 72-120 h after the last exercise session in younger but not in older women

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Oct;95(2-3):146-52. doi: 10.1007/s00421-005-1403-7. Epub 2005 Jul 20.


The regular practice of aerobic training (AT) induces an improvement in insulin sensitivity (IS) in healthy younger women that persists until 96-120 h after the last exercise bout. Due to the dearth of research data, it still remains unclear whether a regular AT program can improve IS for such a period of time after the last training bout in healthy older women. To address this issue, we trained 14 younger and 8 older women 3 days per week during 6 months, and measured IS 3-5 days after the last training bout. AT consisted of 25-60 min sessions of running at 60-95% of maximal heart rate. Fat mass decreased (8%) in older women only. VO(2max) and fat-free mass increased in both groups. Only older women decreased bodyweight (4%) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (19%). Visceral adipose tissue decreased in none of the groups. The IS improved only in younger women (relative: 22%; absolute: 24%). The present findings suggest that in older women the improvement in IS following AT is short-lived and results mainly from the acute effect of the last training bout, whereas in younger women the chronic adaptations induced by AT are implicated, as the improvement in IS is maintained beyond the residual effect of the last training bout. From a clinical standpoint, our findings suggest that in older women AT should be performed every day to improve glucose metabolism, whereas in younger women an AT frequency (three times per week) allowing to induce and maintain chronic minimal physiological adaptations would be required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Running / physiology