Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Neil Schneiderman

Second Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre

Third Committee Member

Ronald Goldberg


Both type 2 diabetes (T2D) and the the metabolic syndrome (MetS) have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Inflammation and insulin resistance have each been associated with the development of MetS and the onset of T2D as well as the risk of CVD. Inflammation and insulin resistance are therefore suitable targets for public health initiatives and interventions in persons at risk for or living with CVD. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for CVD as well as MetS and T2D. Conversely, increased physical activity is associated with improved health outcomes for individuals with a high risk for developing CVD. Two possible mechanisms for the deleterious effects of inactivity on health are inflammation and insulin resistance. Researchers have hypothesized that increased adiposity and reduced fitness are partially responsible for the associations between inactivity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. However, these relationships have not been studied extensively in overweight/obese individuals, who are often unfit and sedentary. The purpose of this study was to further examine the relationship between baseline measures of walking activity and sedentary behavior, and inflammation and insulin resistance in a sample of adults with type 2 diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome. This thesis examined baseline data from participants enrolled in either of two studies of patients with T2D (n = 116) or MetS without T2D (n = 126). Participants included low income men and women (not pregnant or nursing) between the ages of 18 and 70 who either show depressed affect (BDI > 11), and were overweight (BMI ≥ 27 kg/m2) and had type 2 diabetes or had at least 3 components of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) classification of the metabolic syndrome (MetS). Structural equation modeling was used to determine if physical inactivity is associated with inflammation or insulin resistance in these conditions. Possible mediational roles of adiposity and low cardiorespiratory fitness were also examined. Additional analyses were conducted to determine if these relationships can be estimated equally in MetS and T2D conditions. Activity was indirectly related to abdominal adiposity via an indirect, positive association with cardiorespiratory fitness. Abdominal adiposity was positively related to both inflammation and insulin resistance. There were no direct associations between activity and inflammation or insulin resistance in this population. Therefore, walking may be negatively related to cardiovascular risk, insofar as it reduces abdominal adiposity.


inflammation; insulin resistance; physical activity; metabolic syndrome; type 2 diabetes