Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011 May; 66(5): 747-751.

Copyright © 2011 Hospital das Clínicas da FMUSP

High cardiorespiratory fitness is more beneficial in pre-diabetic men than women

Hannes Gatterer I , Hanno Ulmer II , Alexander Dzien III , Matthias Somavilla III , Martin Burtscher I

Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Department of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Health Economics, Innsbruck Medical University, Austria.

General practitioner, Tirol, Austria.

E-mail: Tel.: 0043 0512 507 4493

received October 28, 2010; revised December 25, 2010; accepted February 7, 2011.



To investigate gender-specific relationships between cardiorespiratory fitness and factors that predict the development of diabetes and to identify the risk factors that predict fasting plasma glucose and 2-hour plasma glucose levels.


Different risk factors (e.g., low cardiorespiratory fitness) may cause elevated plasma glucose levels in men compared to women. Therefore, gender-specific analyses are needed.


Cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal power output achieved during a standard cycle ergometry test), resting blood pressure, total serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels were measured in 32 pre-diabetic men (mean age: 57.2±6.8 years; mean body mass index (BMI): 28.5±3.0 kg/m2) and 40 pre-diabetic women (mean age: 55.0±7.3 years, mean BMI: 30.4±5.7 kg/m2). A stepwise regression with backward variable selection was performed to construct models that predict 2-hour and fasting plasma glucose levels.


Maximal power output was inversely related to the 2-hour plasma glucose level in the entire group (r = −0.237, p<0.05), but this relationship was significant only for males (r = −0.404, p<0.05). No significant correlation was found between female gender and cardiorespiratory fitness. Age and cardiorespiratory fitness were significant predictors of 2-hour plasma glucose levels in men. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol was predictive of 2-hour plasma glucose levels in women. Triglycerides in women and BMI in men were the only predictors of fasting plasma glucose levels.


These findings may have consequences for the development of gender-specific diabetes prevention programs. Whereas increasing cardiorespiratory fitness should be a key goal for men, improving the lipid profile seems to be more beneficial for women. However, the present results do not negate the positive effects of increasing cardiorespiratory fitness in women.

Keywords: Fitness Level, Impaired Fasting Glucose, Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Gender, Diabetes

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