Objectives To evaluate effects of active bike commuting or leisure-time exercise of two intensities on peripheral insulin sensitivity (primary outcome), cardiorespiratory fitness and intra-abdominal adipose tissue mass (secondary outcomes).
Methods 188 physically inactive, healthy women and men (20-45 years) with overweight or class 1 obesity were recruited. In the 6-month trial, 130 participants were randomised to either: no intervention (CON), active commuting (BIKE) or leisure-time exercise of moderate (MOD, 50% VO2peak) or vigorous (VIG, 70% VO2peak) intensity. 100 completed follow-up testing. Exercise prescription was 5 days/week with a weekly exercise energy expenditure of 1600 kcal for women and 2100 kcal for men. Testing was performed at baseline, 3 months and 6 months.
Results Peripheral insulin sensitivity (ml/min/pmol insulin/L) increased (improved) by 24% (95% CI 6% to 46%, p=0.01) in VIG compared with CON at 3 months. Peripheral insulin sensitivity increased (improved) by 20% in BIKE (95% CI 1% to 43%, p=0.04) and 26% in VIG (95% CI 7% to 47%, p<0.01) compared with CON at 6 months. Cardiorespiratory fitness increased in all exercise groups compared with CON at 6 months; but the increase was higher in those that undertook vigorous exercise than those who did moderate exercise. Intra-abdominal adipose tissue mass diminished across all exercise groups in comparison to CON at 6 months.
Conclusions Active bike commuting improved cardiometabolic health; as did leisure-time exercise. Leisure-time exercise of vigorous intensity conferred more rapid effects on peripheral insulin sensitivity as well as additional effects on cardiorespiratory fitness than did moderate intensity exercise.
Trial registration NCT01962259
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