Bursts of exercise can strongly boost your metabolic health

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In a new study, researchers found that short bursts of physical exercise induce changes in the body’s levels of metabolites that correlate to, and may help gauge, a person’s cardio-metabolic, heart, and long-term health.

They described how approximately 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise impacted more than 80% of circulating metabolites, including pathways linked to a wide range of favorable health outcomes.

The research was conducted by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Much is known about the effects of exercise on cardiac, vascular, and inflammatory systems of the body, but this study provides a comprehensive look at the metabolic impact of exercise by linking specific metabolic pathways to exercise response variables and long-term health outcomes.

What was striking was the effects a brief bout of exercise can have on the circulating levels of metabolites that govern such key bodily functions as insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity, inflammation, and longevity.

The new study drew on data from the Framingham Heart Study to measure the levels of 588 circulating metabolites before and immediately after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise in 411 middle-aged men and women.

The team detected favorable shifts in a number of metabolites for which resting levels were linked to cardiometabolic disease.

For example, glutamate, a key metabolite linked to heart disease, diabetes, and decreased longevity, fell by 29%.

And DMGV, a metabolite associated with increased risk of diabetes and liver disease, dropped by 18%.

The study further found that metabolic responses may be modulated by factors other than exercise, including a person’s sex and body mass index, with obesity possibly conferring partial resistance to the benefits of exercise.

The Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and now embraces three generations of participants, allowed the researchers to apply the same signatures used in the current study population to stored blood from earlier generations of participants.

By studying the long-term effects of metabolic signatures of exercise responses, researchers were able to predict the future state of an individual’s health, and how long they are likely to live.

One author of the study is Gregory Lewis, MD, the section head of Heart Failure at MGH.

The study is published in Circulation.

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