From helping the body fight cancer to reducing heart disease and improving memory, the health benefits of exercising regularly have been well-documented. What has been less clear are the intricate mechanisms behind working out and good health.
Aiming to fill this gap, a recent study shines new light on high-intensity workouts specifically, finding that they can have incredible effects on the metabolites circulating through the body and, as a result, lead to improvements in a wide range of bodily functions.
“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,” says senior author Gregory Lewis.
“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.”
To arrive at this conclusion, Lewis and his team drew on data from a heart study concerning 411 middle-aged men and women. The team measured the levels of 588 circulating metabolites before and immediately after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise. They found favorable changes in a number of metabolites.
For example, glutamate, a key metabolite linked to heart disease, diabetes, and decreased longevity, decreased by 29 percent. And DMGV, a metabolite associated with increased risk of diabetes and liver disease, dropped by 18 percent.
“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. “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.”