Eight-week exercise training in humans with obesity: Marked improvements in insulin sensitivity and modest changes in gut microbiome

Rebecca J.H.M. Verheggen*, Prokopis Konstanti, Hauke Smidt, Ad R.M.M. Hermus, Dick H.J. Thijssen, Maria T.E. Hopman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Obesity is associated with impaired gut microbiota diversity, which has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. This study aims to examine the effects of an 8-week aerobic exercise intervention on insulin sensitivity, visceral adiposity, and gut microbiota diversity and composition in participants with obesity. Methods: Fourteen participants (mean [SD], age 51 [11] years; BMI 34.9 [4.9] kg/m2) performed an 8-week exercise intervention (2 to 4 times/week on 65% to 85% of heart rate reserve). Insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulemic euglycemic clamp), cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal oxygen uptake), visceral adiposity (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan) and gut microbiota composition (16S rRNA gene sequencing) were measured before and after the intervention. Results: Insulin sensitivity showed a significant increase (pre: 3.8 [1.9] mg/min/kg; post: 4.5 [1.7] mg/min/kg; p = 0.007) after training, whereas visceral adiposity decreased (pre: 959 [361] cm3; post: 897 [364] cm3; p = 0.02). No change in gut microbiota α- or β-diversity was found. At the genus level, the abundance of Ruminococcus gauvreauii (p = 0.02); Lachnospiraceae FCS020 group (p = 0.04), and Anaerostipes (p = 0.04) significantly increased after exercise training. Significant positive correlations were present for M-value (R. gauvreauii) and VO2 max (R. gauvreauii and Anaerostipes). Conclusions: Eight-week exercise training in humans with obesity leads to marked improvements in insulin sensitivity and body composition and is accompanied by modest changes in 3 gut microbiome genera, all belonging to the Firmicutes phylum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1624
Issue number10
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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