We investigated the influence of a program of exercise training consisting of three weekly sessions, each 45 min long, for 12 wk, on indices of physical fitness, glycemic control, and insulin sensitivity in nine adolescents with type I diabetes; six age-matched adolescents with diabetes of equivalent duration served as nonexercised controls. All subjects were instructed not to change dialy insulin dose or caloric intake. In the exercised group, maximal oxygen uptake during graded cycle ergometry to volitional exhaustion increased by 9 ± 2.7% (P < 0.01) and lean body mass increased by 4 ± 1.8% (P < 0.05). Insulin sensitivity, assessed via the euglycemic clamp technique at insulin infusion rates of 100 mU/M2/min, showed an increase of insulin-mediated glucose disposal from 274 ± 33 to 338 ± 28 mg/M2/min, representing an increase in insulin sensitivity of 23 ± 5% (P < 0.01). None of these indices changed in the control group. Despite increased insulin sensitivity, glycohemoglobin levels remained at 12 ± 1% before and after the 12 wk of exercise training, indicating no improvement in overall glycemic control. No increase in hypoglycemic reactions was reported in either group. We conclude that exercise training may be a valuable adjunct in managing type I diabetes providing there is concomitant attention to diet and insulin. Exercise training alone, however, does not improve glycemic control, although it improves physical fitness and insulin sensitivity.

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