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Keywords:

  • glucose tolerance;
  • insulin action;
  • mixed meal;
  • physical activity

The purpose of this study was to determine the acute and residual impact of a single exercise bout on meal glucose control in adolescents with habitually low physical activity. Twelve adolescents (seven females/five males, 14 ± 2 yr) completed three trials. One trial [No Exercise (No Ex)] was completed after refraining from vigorous activity for ≥3 d. On the other two trials, a 45-min aerobic exercise bout at 75% peak heart rate was performed either 17-h Prior Day Exercise (Prior Day Ex) trial or 1-h Same Day Exercise (Same Day Ex) trial before consuming the test meal (2803 kJ, 45/40/15% energy as carbohydrate/fat/protein, respectively). Compared to No Ex, insulin sensitivity (SI) (minimal model analysis) was increased by 45% (p < 0.03) and 78% (p < 0.01) on the Prior Day Ex and Same Day Ex trials, respectively. This improvement in glucose control was supported by corresponding reductions in the net area under the curve for glucose, insulin, and c-peptide, although there was no change in postprandial suppression of fatty acids. These results show that SI is improved with a single bout of moderate intensity exercise in adolescents with habitually low physical activity and that the residual beneficial effect of exercise lasts at least 17 h. This finding highlights the plasticity of exercise responses in youth and the importance of daily exercise for metabolic health.