Twelve minutes of exercise is what you need to get your metabolism going, according to new research

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  • Many studies have shown that exercise has health benefits
  • However, it was not clear how exercise impacts health at a metabolic level
  • A recent study revealed that even a short bout of exercise can be beneficial to key biological processes


There is a plethora of research available proving that regular exercise is beneficial to our health – one example is that it lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, an unclear aspect was the mechanisms governing how exercise is beneficial. Recently, a group of researchers delved deeper into the impact that exercise has on our bodies, specifically looking at how exercise affects metabolic health through the blood. 

Workout affects metabolites

For the purpose of their study, the researchers gathered 114 participants (middle-aged men and women) and analysed their reactions to 12 minutes of intense exercise. Blood was drawn from participants before the activity (at rest) and at peak exercise.

They found that during those 12 minutes, the activity affected over 80% of circulating metabolites in the blood.

What are metabolites?

Metabolites are naturally occurring substances involved in metabolism – which is the process that changes food into energy for the body to run cellular processes. Metabolites serve as indicators of long-term health and cardiometabolic risk (the chance of a person having a heart attack or stroke). 

A little goes a long way

Findings of the study indicate that it takes only a short amount of exercise to impact metabolites, and because these substances are key to biological processes in the body, this short bout of exercise is greatly beneficial for overall health. This means that exercise, even on a small scale, can have a crucial impact on some important biological processes in our body.

Medical Director of the Heart Transplant Program and co-author of the study stated, “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."

The researchers said that the findings of the study are helping them to better understand how exercise affects the body at a molecular level, and that this information can potentially help them 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”.

READ | Exercise may help activate immune system to fight prostate cancer

READ | Want to grow old healthy? Start exercising before menopause

READ | Supersets save time in the gym – which may help you reach fitness goals faster

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