Study reveals major benefits of 12-minute bursts of exercise

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A recent study shows the benefits of incorporating just 12-minute bursts of vigorous exercise.

In the findings, which were published in the journal Circulation earlier this month, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital saw that doing these bouts of acute cardiopulmonary exercise led to an increase in circulating metabolites.

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Metabolites administer insulin resistance, stress, inflammation and longevity, the Harvard Gazette reported.

The research team discovered that short bursts of exercise affected over 80% of circulating metabolites, which led them to pinpoint possible tools that could offer a greater understanding of the cardiometabolic benefits of exercise.

“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,” said investigator Gregory Lewis, section head of Heart Failure at MGH and senior author of the study in a statement.

Drawing on data from the Framingham Heart Study, a 72-year-old study directed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, researchers measured the levels of 588 circulating metabolites before and after participants performed 12 minutes of vigorous exercise. The study reviewed 411 middle-aged men and women.

What researchers found were positive changes in metabolites associated with the cardiovascular system.

Glutamate, a key metabolite tied to diabetes, heart disease and reduced longevity, decreased by 29%. Another metabolite, DMGV, decreased by 18%. That metabolite is linked to a greater risk of liver disease and diabetes.

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Additionally, the study revealed that factors aside from exercise may change metabolic responses. They include body mass index and a person’s sex.

“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,” co-first author Matthew Nayor of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Section in the Division of Cardiology at MGH said. “Lower levels of DMGV, for example, could signify higher levels of fitness.”

This is not the first study to show that a few moments of robust exercise can reap benefits.

A 2018 study found that two minutes of intense exercise is the same as 30 minutes of moderate exercise.

“This suggests that exercise may be prescribed according to individual preferences while still generating similar signals known to confer beneficial metabolic adaptations,” the study’s authors wrote in the American Journal of Physiology. “These findings have important implications for improving our understanding of how exercise can be used to enhance metabolic health in the general population.”

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