The effect of whole-body cryostimulation on insulin sensitivity in overweight patients

  • Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr hab. Ewa Ziemann, Poznan University of Physical Education
  • Project title: Short to long effects of whole body cryostimulation on insulin sensitivity among overweight: translational controlled trial investigating coldness and training effects on endocrine regulation on energy metabolism
  • Funding scheme: OPUS 13, announced on 15 March 2017
Prof. Ewa Ziemann at work, photo by Michał Łepecki

Photo by Michał Łepecki

The many available methods of cryotherapy also include a special approach known as whole-body cryostimulation (WBC). Research has shown WBC is beneficial in alleviating the negative consequences of excess body weight and obesity: it improves the lipid profile and reduces the inflammation associated with an excess of adipose tissue. For this reason, the method may also be considered as an adjunctive treatment for excess body weight, helping to improve the patient’s insulin sensitivity. Provided that it is performed in a specialised centre, WBC is a cheap and readily available procedure, with few well-defined contraindications and possible side effects. On the other hand, recent research has shown that cryotherapy may lessen or even undo adaptive changes induced by physical exercise; the study in question was carried out on a group of athletes after a cold water training session. No data are yet available on the connection between whole-body cryostimulation and health-related exercise. The objective of this project is thus to determine the effectiveness of whole-body cryostimulation, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and the combination of the two procedures (WBC and HIIT) on metabolic changes in overweight patients.

Prof. Ewa Ziemann at work, photo by Michał Łepecki

Photo by Michał Łepecki

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  1. determine which of the procedures is the most effective: training alone, WBC alone, or training and WBC combined. What are the relationships between the proteins secreted by muscles, the adipose tissue and the bone tissue in these procedures?
  2. determine whether training combined with whole-body cryostimulation inhibits the beneficial effects of physical exercise;
  3. determine, based on In vitro studies, how the bone and pancreatic cells are affected by the serum of study subjects from the groups undergoing each of the procedures; and
  4. determine whether any changes induced by the procedures are short-term or long-term.

The project will recruit patients with excess weight as study subjects. They will be qualified based on data on their insulin sensitivity and then randomly assigned to one of four groups: the control group, the whole-body cryostimulation (WBC) group, the training group (HIIT), and the WBC and HIIT combined group. Blood samples will be taken at the outset of the study, and then after 10 and 20 WBC sessions, in order to investigate proteins secreted by adipose tissue (adipokines) and skeletal muscles (myokines), bone tissue hormones, as well as glucose levels and inflammation markers.

Prof. Ewa Ziemann - portrait photo, photo by Michał Łepecki

Photo by Michał Łepecki

Prof. Dr hab. Ewa Ziemann

Prof. Ziemann graduated from the Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport, and earned her PhD and habilitation at the same institution. Nominated by the Medical University of Gdansk, she was awarded the title of Full Professor. She has authored 48 Web of Science-indexed publications, coordinated 4 research grants on factors that promote and limit the effects of health-related exercise and sports training. She is now the principal investigator in a project funded under the OPUS 13 call and the main contractor in an OPUS 15 project. Between 2016 and 2019, she served as the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation and Kinesiology at the Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport. Since December 2019, she works at the Department of Sport Kinesiology at the Poznan University of Physical Education.

Date of publication: 13th Nov 2020