Exercise Dose Effects on Insulin Resistance Indicators in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Trial

Christine M. Friedenreich, Heather K. Neilson, Qinggang Wang, Frank Z. Stanczyk, Yutaka Yasui, Darren R. Brenner, Kerry S. Courneya


Background: While >= 150 minutes/week of moderate-vigorous physical activity is recommended for cancer prevention, the optimal amount for breast cancer prevention is unknown. Insulin resistance is a candidate biomarker of breast cancer risk. The objective of the study was to determine if 300 versus 150 minutes/week of moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise produces stronger improvements in insulin resistance indicators.

Methods: The Breast Cancer and Exercise Trial in Alberta (BETA) was a year-long, two-center, two-armed, randomized controlled exercise trial between June 2010 and June 2013. The setting was a volunteer sample from Calgary and Edmonton, Canada. Participants were 400 inactive, non-diabetic, postmenopausal women with body mass index of 22 - 40 kg/m2. Interventions were 5 days/week aerobic exercise (3 days/week supervised) for 60 minutes/session (high) or 30 minutes/session (moderate) at 65-75% heart rate reserve for great-than or equal to 50% of each session. The main outcome measures were fasting blood concentrations of insulin, glucose, leptin, adiponectin, and resistin measured at baseline, 6 and 12 months.

Results: Dose effects were evaluated using linear mixed models adjusted for baseline biomarker concentrations. High/moderate ratios of geometric mean biomarker concentrations over 12 months ranged from 0.93 to 1.00 (all P-values great-than or equal to 0.05), indicating no dose effect. Among adherent women (n = 137), ratios for insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and leptin were 0.77 - 0.89 (P-values < 0.05), indicating more benefit from the high prescription. There was a significant dose effect (P-value < 0.05) on resistin and leptin in non-obese and younger women, respectively.

Conclusions: Prescribing 300 versus 150 minutes/week of moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise to inactive, non-diabetic, postmenopausal women may not produce stronger changes in insulin resistance indicators. Among exercise-adherers, however, a 300 minutes/week prescription might provide some additional benefit for breast cancer prevention.

J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;6(2):35-45
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.14740/jem341w


Breast cancer; Prevention; Exercise; Insulin resistance; Insulin; Adiponectin; Leptin; Resistin; Glucose; HOMA-IR

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