Effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity in healthy postmenopausal women: The SHAPE study

Willemijn A van Gemert, Evelyn M Monninkhof, Anne M May, Petra H Peeters, A.J. Schuit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)



An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for several types of cancer. A proposed pathway through which exercise influences cancer risk is via insulin. We aim to investigate the effect of a one-year exercise intervention on insulin sensitivity, and the role of body fat in this association, in healthy, normal to overweight/obese, postmenopausal women.


In the Sex Hormones And Physical Exercise (SHAPE) study, 189 healthy, inactive and postmenopausal women [ages, 50-69 years; body mass index (BMI), 22-40 kg/m(2)] were randomly assigned to a one-year aerobic and strength exercise intervention (150 min/wk), or a control group. Between-group differences in fasting insulin, glucose, and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA2) over time were estimated using linear mixed models.


Follow-up measurements of insulin sensitivity were available for 181 (95.8%) and 182 (96.3%) women at 4 and 12 months, respectively. The intention-to-treat analysis showed no significant differences between the two study groups [treatment effect ratio of the exercise group vs. control (β; 95% confidence interval): insulin, β, 1.07 (0.96-1.19); glucose, β, 1.01 (0.99-1.02); and HOMA2, β, 1.07 (0.96-1.20)]. Similar results were found in a per protocol analysis in compliant women, and in a subgroup of women who lost >2% body fat [measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)].


Participation in a one-year aerobic and strength exercise intervention program did not result in changes in insulin sensitivity in healthy postmenopausal and inactive women.


Our findings suggest that 150 min/wk of exercise, as recommended by current guidelines, is not enough to achieve improvements in insulin sensitivity and subsequent cancer risk, in healthy postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
JournalCancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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