Physical training increases insulin action in skeletal muscle in healthy men. In non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), only minor improvements in whole-body insulin action are seen. We studied the effect of training on insulin-mediated glucose clearance rates (GCRs) in the whole body and in leg muscle in seven patients with NIDDM and in eight healthy control subjects. One-legged training was performed for 10 weeks. GCR in whole body and in both legs were measured before, the day after, and 6 days after training by hyperinsulinemic (28, 88, and 480 mU · min−1 · m−2), isoglycemic clamps combined with the leg balance technique. On the 5th day of detraining, one bout of exercise was performed with the nontraining leg. Muscle biopsies were obtained before and after training. Whole-body GCRs were always lower (P < 0.05) in NIDDM patients compared with control subjects and increased (P < 0.05) in response to training. In untrained muscle, GCR was lower (P < 0.05) in NIDDM patients (13 ± 4, 91 ± 9, and 148 ± 12 ml/min) compared with control subjects (56 ± 12, 126 ± 14, and 180 ± 14 ml/min). It Increased (P < 0.05) in both groups in response to training (43 ± 10, 144 ± 17, and 205 ± 24 [NIDDM patients] and 84 ± 10, 212 ± 20, and 249 ± 16 ml/min [control subjects]). Acute exercise did not increase leg GCR. In NIDDM patients, the effect of training was lost after 6 days, while the effect lasted longer in control subjects. Training increased (P < 0.05) muscle lactate production and glucose storage as well as glycogen synthase (GS) mRNA in both groups. We conclude that training increases insulin action in skeletal muscle in control subjects and NIDDM patients, and in NIDDM patients normal values may be obtained. The increase in trained muscle cannot fully account for the increase in whole-body GCR. Improvements in GCR involve enhancement of insulin-mediated increase in muscle blood flow and the ability to extract glucose. They are accompanied by enhanced nonoxidative glucose disposal and increases in GS mRNA. The improvements in insulin action are short-lived.

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