The Effect of Regular Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Diabetes Metab J. 2016 Aug;40(4):253-71. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2016.40.4.253. Epub 2016 Aug 2.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of regular exercise training on insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) using the pooled data available from randomised controlled trials. In addition, we sought to determine whether short-term periods of physical inactivity diminish the exercise-induced improvement in insulin sensitivity. Eligible trials included exercise interventions that involved ≥3 exercise sessions, and reported a dynamic measurement of insulin sensitivity. There was a significant pooled effect size (ES) for the effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity (ES, -0.588; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.816 to -0.359; P<0.001). Of the 14 studies included for meta-analyses, nine studies reported the time of data collection from the last exercise bout. There was a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity in favour of exercise versus control between 48 and 72 hours after exercise (ES, -0.702; 95% CI, -1.392 to -0.012; P=0.046); and this persisted when insulin sensitivity was measured more than 72 hours after the last exercise session (ES, -0.890; 95% CI, -1.675 to -0.105; P=0.026). Regular exercise has a significant benefit on insulin sensitivity in adults with T2DM and this may persist beyond 72 hours after the last exercise session.

Keywords: Aerobic training; Glucose tolerance test; Hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp; Insulin resistance; Resistance training.

Publication types

  • Review