JAN 13, 2021 9:30 AM PST

Short Bursts of Exercise Boost Markers of Good Health

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Exercise is good for our health, but it seems that certain kinds of exercise are more beneficial than others. Recent research has suggested that short bursts of exercise can trigger changes in metabolites that are linked to cardiometabolic, cardiovascular, and general long-term health.

Image credit: Pxhere

Cardiopulmonary exercise is an assessment technique used to gauge heart and lung fitness - it specifically monitors blood circulation in the heart. Reporting in Circulation, this study indicated that about twelve minutes of intense cardiopulmonary exercise affected over 80 percent of metabolites in circulation. These metabolites are associated with biological pathways that are related to many favorable health outcomes. Thus, this work could help us gain a better understanding of how beneficial brief bursts of cardiopulmonary excercise can be.

"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," said the senior study author Gregory Lewis, M.D., section head of Heart Failure at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). 

"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."

This study used data from the Framingham Heart Study. After 411 middle-aged men and women did twelve minutes of vigorous exercise, 588 circulating metabolite levels were measured. Some metabolites with resting levels connected to cardiometabolic disease were shifted in a good way; glutamate, for example, is linked to heart disease and diabetes, and its level dropped after exercise. The work also indicated that the metabolic response to exercise is influenced by other factors like body mass index and sexual identity. Obesity could interfere with the beneficial impact of exercise. A treadmill can help you incorporate this form of exercise into your at-home routine, choose a manual treadmill that best allows you to vary your speed and time yourself for short bursts of exercise.

"Intriguingly, our study found that different metabolites tracked with different physiologic responses to exercise and might, therefore, provide unique signatures in the bloodstream that reveal if a person is physically fit, much the way current blood tests determine how well the kidney and liver are functioning," noted the co-first study author Matthew Nayor, M.D., M.P.H., with the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH. 

"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," said the co-first study author Ravi Shah, M.D., of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH. "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."

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Massachusetts General Hospital, Circulation

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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