Physical activity and sedentary behavior show distinct associations with tissue-specific insulin sensitivity in adults with overweight

Lisa Wanders, Anouk Gijbels, Esmée A. Bakker, Inez Trouwborst, Kelly M. Jardon, Koen C.M. Manusama, Gabby B. Hul, Edith J.M. Feskens, Lydia A. Afman, Ellen E. Blaak, Maria T.E. Hopman, Gijs H. Goossens, Dick H.J. Thijssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to investigate associations between the physical activity (PA) spectrum (sedentary behavior to exercise) and tissue-specific insulin resistance (IR). Methods: We included 219 participants for analysis (median [IQR]: 61 [55; 67] years, BMI 29.6 [26.9; 32.0] kg/m2; 60% female) with predominant muscle or liver IR, as determined using a 7-point oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). PA and sedentary behavior were measured objectively (ActivPAL) across 7 days. Context-specific PA was assessed with the Baecke questionnaire. Multiple linear regression models (adjustments include age, sex, BMI, site, season, retirement, and dietary intake) were used to determine associations between the PA spectrum and hepatic insulin resistance index (HIRI), muscle insulin sensitivity index (MISI) and whole-body IR (HOMA-IR, Matsuda index). Results: In fully adjusted models, objectively measured total PA (standardized regression coefficient β = 0.17, p = 0.020), light-intensity PA (β = 0.15, p = 0.045) and moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (β = 0.13, p = 0.048) were independently associated with Matsuda index, but not HOMA-IR (p > 0.05). A higher questionnaire-derived sport index and leisure index were associated with significantly lower whole-body IR (Matsuda, HOMA-IR) in men but not in women. Results varied across tissues: more time spent sedentary (β = −0.24, p = 0.045) and a higher leisure index (β = 0.14, p = 0.034) were respectively negatively and positively associated with MISI, but not HIRI. A higher sport index was associated with lower HIRI (β = −0.30, p = 0.007, in men only). Conclusion: While we confirm a beneficial association between PA and whole-body IR, our findings indicate that associations between the PA spectrum and IR seem distinct depending on the primary site of insulin resistance (muscle or liver).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13945
Number of pages13
JournalActa Physiologica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2023


  • exercise
  • insulin resistance
  • sitting
  • tissue-specific


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