Exercise and diet enhance fat oxidation and reduce insulin resistance in older obese adults

Thomas P.J. Solomon, Sakita N. Sistrun, Raj K. Krishnan, Luis F. Del Aguila, Christine M. Marchetti, Susan M. O'Carroll, Valerie B. O'Leary, John P. Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Older, obese, and sedentary individuals are at high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise training improves metabolic anomalies associated with such diseases, but the effects of caloric restriction in addition to exercise in such a high-risk group are not known. Changes in body composition and metabolism during a lifestyle intervention were investigated in 23 older, obese men and women (aged 66 ± 1 yr, body mass index 33.2 ± 1.4 kg/m2) with impaired glucose tolerance. All volunteers undertook 12 wk of aerobic exercise training [5 days/wk for 60 min at 75% maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2max)] with either normal caloric intake (eucaloric group, 1,901 ± 277 kcal/day, n = 12) or a reduced-calorie diet (hypocaloric group, 1,307 ± 70 kcal/day, n = 11), as dictated by nutritional counseling. Body composition (decreased fat mass; maintained fat-free mass), aerobic fitness (V̇O2max), leptinemia, insulin sensitivity, and intramyocellular lipid accumulation (IMCL) in skeletal muscle improved in both groups (P < 0.05). Improvements in body composition, leptin, and basal fat oxidation were greater in the hypocaloric group. Following the intervention, there was a correlation between the increase in basal fat oxidation and the decrease in IMCL (r = -0.53, P = 0.04). In addition, basal fat oxidation was associated with circulating leptin after (r = 0.65, P = 0.0007) but not before the intervention (r = 0.05, P = 0.84). In conclusion, these data show that exercise training improves resting substrate oxidation and creates a metabolic milieu that appears to promote lipid utilization in skeletal muscle, thus facilitating a reversal of insulin resistance. We also demonstrate that leptin sensitivity is improved but that such a trend may rely on reducing caloric intake in addition to exercise training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1313-1319
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Leptin
  • Obesity
  • Substrate oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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