Want Better Metabolism and Overall Health? Try Bursts of Exercise

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Short bursts of physical exercise may induce changes in your body's level of metabolites related to cardiometabolic and heart health and long-term wellness, yet again proving the far-reaching benefits of exercise even with a shorter time investment

Another study vouches for the benefits of short bursts of physical exercise, this time on metabolic, cardiovascular and long-term health.

About 12 minutes of acute cardiopulmonary exercise affected over 80%of circulating metabolites in the body, including pathways that are associated with a wide range of positive health outcomes, according to research published in the journal Circulation.[i]

Burst-Type Exercise and Metabolites

The study, by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, used data from the Framingham Heart Study to measure the levels of 588 circulating metabolites before and after 12 minutes of vigorous exercise in 411 adult men and women.[ii]

The Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 and now comprises three generations of participants, giving researchers of the featured study access to stored blood from earlier generations, allowing them to study long-term effects.[iii]

In the large sample of middle-aged subjects, acute exercise resulted in massive changes in the circulating metabolites. These metabolic changes identify pathways that are instrumental in cardiometabolic health, heart health and long-term health outcomes.

The team detected favorable changes in the number of metabolites previously linked to cardiometabolic disease. One such metabolite, glutamate, which is associated with heart disease, diabetes and reduced longevity, dropped by 29%. A metabolite linked to increased diabetes and liver disease risk, known as DMGV, decreased by 18%.

Metabolic responses, as the findings also revealed, may be mediated by other factors, such as sex and body mass index. Obesity, for instance, may incite partial resistance to exercise's benefits.

Various metabolites might offer "unique signatures" in a person's bloodstream that show physical fitness levels, similar to how blood tests may determine kidney and liver functioning, according to study author Dr. Matthew Nayor in a statement.[iv]

"Lower levels of DMGV, for example, could signify higher levels of fitness," he said.

The long-term impacts of metabolic signatures of exercise responses helped researchers predict a person's future state of health, and even their potential lifespan.[v]

Go High-Intensity: Gains From Burst Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular form of exercise made up of short bursts of intense exercise, followed by a period of rest or low-intensity activity.

The intense exercise can last from less than 45 seconds to a couple of minutes, preceding rest or gentle exercise for a similar length of time before the sequence is repeated.[vi] An HIIT workout may take only 15 to 20 minutes but with significant benefits. Burst training, as HIIT is sometimes referred to, may provide the following perks:

  • Decreased body fat -- A 2012 study found that 12 weeks of high-intensity interval exercise led to significant reductions in total, abdominal, trunk and visceral fat, along with significant climbs in fat-free mass and aerobic power.[vii] This is compared to steadier types of training such as jogging.
  • Better cardiovascular wellness -- A 10-week HIIT program translated to cardiovascular and metabolic benefits similar to those seen in moderate-intensity workouts, as concluded by a 2015 study.[viii] Twelve weeks of brief intense interval exercise also improved indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as the usual endurance training in sedentary males, in spite of a five-fold lower exercise volume and time spent.[ix]
  • Enhanced mental health -- A 2019 review suggested that burst training can offer benefits to mental health patients, such as reduced depression severity.[x]
  • Improved chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- Exercise training in a pulmonary rehabilitation program enhanced submaximal exercise capacity.[xi] However, only subjects who completed high-intensity exercise showed improvements in areas of maximal exercise capacity, forced vital capacity in lungs and work efficiency.

More than fat burning, burst training offers a wide range of health benefits that can affect extensive bodily processes, including longevity. Discover hundreds of abstracts on the GreenMedInfo.com database delving into the therapeutic action of exercise, including high-intensity training.


[i] Nayor M et al "Metabolic Architecture of Acute Exercise Response in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community" Circulation. 15 Sept 2020; 142(20).

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