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Journal of Women's Health








Background: Menopause is associated with both a loss of muscle mass and a worsening of insulin sensitivity (IS). Although eccentric resistance exercise (ECC) can effectively improve muscle mass over time, a single bout of ECC can worsen IS. This study assessed the effect of repeated ECC on IS, muscle mass, and function in postmenopausal women with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

Methods: Sixteen PM women (aged 56 years +/- 6.4) with IGT were randomly assigned to a 12-week, knee extensor ECC program (n = 10) or a nonexercise control group (CON) (n = 6). Participants underwent hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps, dual-energy x-ray (DEXA) absorptiometry, quadriceps strength assessment, 6 minute walk (6MW) tests, and an assessment of steps taken per day before and after training.

Results: ECC participants experienced greater increases in leg lean soft tissue mass (ECC, 0.41 kg; CON, -0.53 kg; p = 0.03), quadriceps strength (ECC, 9.3 kg force; CON, -2.9 kg force; p = 0.02), and 6MW distance (ECC, 56.4 meters; CON, 3.3 meters; p = 0.03) than CON participants and demonstrated a trend toward more steps taken per day post training (ECC, +1747 steps; CON, +339 steps; p = 0.10). IS was unchanged.

Conclusions: This novel exercise improves muscle mass and function without worsening IS in postmenopausal women with IGT. Because it can be performed at low levels of exertion and improves muscle mass and function without impairing IS, ECC should be used to ameliorate muscle loss in physically inactive postmenopausal women. The impact of longer-term ECC on IS should be investigated. Demonstrating that ECC does not worsen IS in this population is significant because it has promise to combat the muscle-mediated impairments common in aging women.


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Original Publication Citation

Marcus, R. L., LaStayo, P. C., Dibble, L. E., Hill, L., & McClain, D. A. (2009). Increased strength and physical performance with eccentric training in women with impaired glucose tolerance: A pilot study. Journal of Women's Health, 18(2), 253-260. doi:10.1089/jwh.2007.0669