Exploring factors related to changes in body composition, insulin sensitivity and aerobic capacity in response to a 12-week exercise intervention in overweight and obese women with and without polycystic ovary syndrome

David Scott, Cheryce L. Harrison, Samantha Hutchison, Barbora De Courten, Nigel K. Stepto

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Objective: To determine factors associated with differential changes in body fat, insulin resistance and aerobic capacity following a 12-week exercise intervention in overweight and obese women with and without polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Methods: 16 overweight and obese women (9 PCOS; 7 without PCOS) completed a supervised progressive 12-week exercise program. Primary outcomes included changes in indicators of insulin sensitivity (including glucose infusion rate relative to fat-free mass [GIR/FFM]), body composition, and aerobic capacity (VO2 peak; 12 participants only). Comparisons were made between women with and without PCOS, and between participants who lost ≥5% (classified as exercise responders) and <5% (non-responders) in body fat (assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). Results: Training decreased body fat percentage by (mean; 95% CI) -2.3%; -5.3, 0.7% in women with PCOS and by -6.4%; -10.9, -1.9% in women without PCOS (P = 0.08). Ten women (7 PCOS; 3 without PCOS) did not reduce body fat by ≥5%. All participants improved VO2 peak (mean change 27%; 16–39%) but four (2 PCOS; 2 without PCOS) demonstrated decreases in GIR/FFM (mean change for whole cohort: 37%; 3–71%). Android-gynoid fat ratio (0.58; 0.51, 0.66 vs 0.46; 0.40, 0.51; P<0.01) was significantly higher and GIR/FFM (6.69; 3.49, 9.90 vs 11.44; 9.15, 13.72 mg/kg/min; P = 0.01) was significantly lower in non-responders compared with responders at baseline, but non-responders had significant post-training decreases in android-gynoid ratio (-0.02; -0.04, -0.01; P = 0.03), and increases in VO2 peak (7.24; 2.28, 12.21 mL/kg/min; P = 0.01) and GIR/FFM (1.44; 0.27, 2.61 mg/kg/ min; P = 0.02). In women with PCOS, pre-training VO2 peak was significantly negatively correlated with change in total body fat (r = -0.75; P = 0.02), and pre-training fasting glucose negatively correlated with changes in VO2 peak (r = -0.76; P = 0.04), but positively correlated with changes in GIR (r = 0.67; P = 0.046). Conclusion: A high proportion of overweight and obese women with PCOS had small reductions in body fat following a 12-week exercise intervention, but nevertheless significantly reduced relative central adiposity and improved aerobic capacity and insulin sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0182412
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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