Physical activity enhances a person's ability to burn fat from 50 percent to more than 1,000 percent, depending on the individual's fitness and how long he/she exercises, according to a new study.
Moreover, the accelerated burn lasts long after the workout ends.
The finding of the study, which looked at how exercise affects more than 200 molecules in the body that are related to metabolism, might lead to better tests for assessing fitness, new ways to diagnose heart problems, and better nutritional supplements that replenish what's lost during heavy exercise.
And eventually, the work might even inspire a magic exercise pill, reports Discovery News.
"This notion of changing metabolism by exercising is something that is very much confirmed by our paper," said Gregory Lewis, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Even after a 10-minute bout of exercise, when people's heart rate is back to normal and their blood pressure is back to normal and they're going about other activities, the metabolites that change during peak exercise persist for at least an hour afterwards."
"By virtue of taking the stairs at work or doing the treadmill for as little as 10 minutes, you're altering your metabolism for a significant period of time that extends beyond that period of exercise," Lewis said. "You're going from a fuel-storage to a fuel-burning state."
In the study, researchers asked 70 people to run on a treadmill to the point where they felt like they couldn't go on anymore.
Before the challenge, blood samples were taken, and right when the runners reached their peak of exertion, and about an hour later. Sessions lasted an average of 10 minutes. Another eight people did the same kind of test on an exercise bike.
In the blood samples, scientists looked at a panel of more than 200 molecules that have something to do with metabolism. These metabolites included building blocks and breakdown products, like amino acids, sugars and vitamins. It also included reporter molecules like glucose, which reflects the breakdown of carbohydrates. Blood tests in standard exercise studies usually measure just seven metabolites.
The results showed that both bikers and runners experienced changes in more than 20 metabolites, including a few that have never been associated with exercise. Some went down significantly. Others went up.
The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.