Short bursts of exercise significantly improve metabolic health: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 18, 2020 Published on November 18, 2020

The study indicates 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise impacted more than 80% of circulating metabolites, including pathways linked to a wide range of favourable health outcomes.

According to a study by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), short bursts of physical exercise induce changes in the body's levels of metabolites that may help gauge an individual's cardiometabolic, cardiovascular and long-term health.

The researchers stated in their study, published in the journal Circulation that approximately 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise impacted more than 80 per cent of circulating metabolites, including pathways linked to a wide range of favourable health outcomes.

Gregory Lewis, MD, section head of Heart Failure at MGH and senior author of the study said: "Much is known about the effects of exercise on cardiac, vascular and inflammatory systems of the body, but our 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."

He added: "What was striking to us 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."


For the study, researchers collected 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 research team identified favourable shifts in several metabolites for which resting levels were previously shown to be associated with cardiometabolic disease. For example, glutamate, a key metabolite linked to heart disease, diabetes, and decreased longevity, fell by 29 per cent.

While DMGV, a metabolite associated with increased risk of diabetes and liver disease, dropped by 18 per cent. The study further found that metabolic responses may be modulated by factors other than exercise, including a person's sex and body mass index.

MGH researchers studied the long-term effects of metabolic signatures of exercise responses to predict the future state of an individual's health, and how long they are likely to live.

"We're starting to better understand the molecular underpinnings of how exercise affects the body and use that knowledge to understand the metabolic architecture around exercise response patterns," says co-first author Ravi Shah, MD, with the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH.

He added: "This approach has the potential to target people who have high blood pressure or many other metabolic risk factors in response to exercise, and set them on a healthier trajectory early in their lives."

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Published on November 18, 2020
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