Metabolic health | Benefits of short periods of activity

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  • According to a new study published in the journal Circulation, short periods of activity, as short as 12 minutes, can improve your metabolic health.
  • You don’t necessarily have to go all out to get these health benefits, either. You can start your outings or workouts easily and gradually increase the intensity.

    Let’s say you’re looking to improve your metabolic health i.e. normal blood sugar, triglycerides, HDL (good) cholesterol, and blood pressure, then you get on your bike. How long does it take to drive before enjoying these benefits?

    A new study published in the journal Circulation suggests it may be shorter than you think.

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    The researchers drew on data from the Framingham Heart Study on 411 middle-aged men and women, looking at the levels of 588 circulating metabolites – substances produced during metabolism, such as amino acids, fatty acids, lipids, carbohydrates, etc. – before and immediately after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise.

    They found that even these short periods of activity had a significant effect, affecting over 80% of the metabolites measured. Another good news is that you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to reap the benefits during those 12 minutes. The researchers here used a protocol that started with very gradual exercise that became more intense with increased resistance, and the participants consistently showed metabolic benefits.

    When you exercise, even for a short time, it causes muscle contractions which increase the amount of metabolites produced. These are created as a way to generate more energy for activity, but they can have far-reaching impacts beyond the short-term effects on skeletal muscles.

    “Metabolites are critically important small molecules that are known to reflect health status, but typically only a small number of metabolites are measured in our current approach to health care,” lead author of the study Gregory Lewis, MD, head of the heart failure section at Massachusetts General Hospital, narrated Ride a bike.

    For example, he said, glucose is an abnormally high metabolite in diabetes, creatinine is a metabolite that indicates kidney function, and uric acid is a metabolite that leads to gout when high. As advances in technology allow more metabolites to be measured, researchers are able to link their levels circulating in the body to potential health effects.

    “Some of the metabolites that predict future cardiovascular disease and mortality are favorably altered by a brief period of exercise, as described in our results,” Lewis said.

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    In addition, researchers have found that certain levels of metabolites are specifically linked to different aspects of our body’s response to exercise, he added. For example, some of those studied are related to blood pressure responses, respiratory efficiency, and peak fitness levels. More research needs to be done on the specific actions of metabolites during exercise, but Lewis believes this is a big step forward in evaluating the link between these molecules and the effects of exercise.

    “Understanding these associations can provide insight into metabolic pathways that play a key role in exercise patterns,” he said.

    The essential ? It doesn’t take much to trigger a beneficial chain reaction in your body’s metabolites that will give your heart health a big boost.

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