A Harvard University study finds significant benefits from 12-minute exercise

A new study published from Harvard University’s Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that short physical exercises can have a significant impact on health. In their paper, the research team describes that about 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise affected more than 80 percent of the circulating metabolites. Short flows of exercise also influenced pathways associated with a wide range of positive health outcomes that identify potential mechanisms that may contribute to a better understanding of the benefits of cardiomuscular exercise.

Gregory Lewis, MD and lead author of heart failure studyingHe said it was surprising to the researchers that a short bout of exercise affected the circulation levels of metabolites that govern vital body functions. Functions associated with these metabolites include insulin resistance, oxidative stress, vascular reaction, inflammation, and longevity. The study extracted data from the Framingham Heart Study to measure 588 levels of circulating metabolites before and immediately after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise in 411 middle-aged men and women.

The researchers found a positive shift in the number of circulating metabolites for which resting levels had previously been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease. The glutamate metabolite, a major metabolite linked to heart disease, diabetes and decreased longevity, decreased by 29 percent with these short bouts of exercise. Another metabolite affected by short exercise was DMGV, which has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and liver disease. DMGV has been reduced by 18 percent.

MGH researchers also found that the metabolic response can be modified by factors other than exercise, including a person’s gender and BMI. There is a possibility that obesity confer partial resistance to the benefits of exercise.

An interesting possibility found in the study is that different metabolites tracked with distinct physiological responses to exercise and could provide unique signatures in the bloodstream to reveal whether a person is physically fit. This finding could open the door to a blood test to determine a person’s suitability, similar to how we can check kidney and liver function through blood.

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