Health & Wellbeing

Scientists discover how a single workout can activate your metabolism for days

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A new study has found that benefits to metabolism can last days after just a single workout
A new study has found that benefits to metabolism can last days after just a single workout
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In a mouse study, important neurons that regulate metabolism (shown in green and yellow) were found to activate for up to two days after a single exercise workout
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In a mouse study, important neurons that regulate metabolism (shown in green and yellow) were found to activate for up to two days after a single exercise workout
A new study has found that benefits to metabolism can last days after just a single workout
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A new study has found that benefits to metabolism can last days after just a single workout

A fascinating new study from scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center could provide some motivation to get moving, even just occasionally. The research has revealed that a single workout can positively affect the activity of neurons in the brain that influence metabolism for up to two days.

The research focused on a subset of neurons in the brain referred to as the melanocortin brain circuit. Melanocortins are a collection of peptide hormones known to help regulate the body's food intake, and two types of neurons are seen to play a role in the release of melanocortins; POMC neurons and AgRP neurons.

To evaluate how exercise affects activity in those two types of neurons, the study measured brain activity in mice after being subjected to a variety of physical activity. The findings revealed a single 60-minute treadmill workout triggered changes in the animals' melanocortin neurons that lasted up to two days.

After a single exercise session POMC neurons displayed increased activity, resulting in reduced appetite and lowered blood glucose levels, while activity in AgRP neurons was decreased. Prior research has found overactive AgRP neurons can lower metabolism and increase appetite.

"It doesn't take much exercise to alter the activity of these neurons," says Kevin Williams, one of the UT Southwestern scientists working on the project. "Based on our results, we would predict that getting out and exercising even once in a semi-intense manner can reap benefits that can last for days, in particular with respect to glucose metabolism."

Although these results have only been proven in animal models, the researchers are confident they would be mirrored in humans as the melanocortin brain circuit is similar in both humans and mice. The team now plans to try and home in on the exact mechanism that exercise seems to be triggering the results in the neuronal changes witnessed.

"This research is not just for improving fitness," says Williams. "A better understanding of neural links to exercise can potentially help a number of conditions affected by glucose regulation."

The new research was published in the journal Molecular Metabolism.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center

4 comments
Grunchy
Mumbo jumbo Junk Science. What's telling is they never get around to explaining what they mean when they say "metabolism", which should mean the amount of CO2 one exhales per hour. If they bothered to define the term numerically then they could prove their assertions with experimental evidence; but they don't. Thunderf00t (youtube) bought himself a precision weigh scale that's accurate to 0.01 kg, even though it cost him $100s of dollars, and found out that most adults lose about 30 g/hr even when asleep. On the other hand he figured out that he could lose about 800 g/hr if he was exercising vigorously on an exercise bike. This is what an actual scientist does: make a hypothesis & prove it experimentally. Anyone with a few hundred $ to spare could buy a similar scale & confirm the findings, if they so chose.
warren52nz
I would have thought that such an experiment could have been done on humans thus skipping the "mouse stage". I mean it's only exercise and measurements. Do they have to kill the mice to measure it? If so how will they prove it in humans?
highlandboy
@Grunchy, if you could really loose 800g of fat I could loose 4kg a week with a 1 hour work out 5 days a week. Doesn’t happen. You forget that exercise makes you perspire. So unless you wear a plastic suit to ensure all perspired water is captured and then weigh yourself (with the suit on), you can not measure the fat burnt by weighing yourself. As a secondary factor, the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide across the lung barrier requires the lung to be kept wet. So again you loose water just breathing (including when you sleep and when you exercise). It’s easy to perspire 0.8 to 1.4 Litres an hour when perspireing during exercise (read 800g to 1.2 kg).
nehopsa
Exactly. Weighting with minutely precise scales is just useless for the purpose here. All you can see is major shifts in water content/hydration/perspiration that plays tricks with your scales on an order of magnitude larger scale than "real" weight loss of body fat tissue. Supposed exactness of Thunderf00t reminds me of a claim that "volume of human ejaculate is precisely: ...."(a random ("exact") number follows to incredibly many decimal places). Of course you cannot estimate what volume of human ejaculate is "precisely" (even though I found just such a claim in medical textbooks from long time ago). "Precisely" measure metabolism the way indicated is similarly meaningless.