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According to the results of a recent American study, just 12 minutes of intense exercise has a significant impact on health. How? This article explains.


The health benefits of physical activity

Sport - even moderate - has a positive impact on health. It acts on aspects that are often overlooked, such as reducing pain and improving well-being, particularly in conditions like fibromyalgia1 or in the prevention of anxiety and depression. In general, therefore, all scientists - supported by new studies - agree that physical activity has a beneficial impact on health.

Generally speaking, it is the impact in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease that is most often highlighted by medical professionals. But the metabolic mechanisms behind this are still not fully understood. American scientists wanted to move beyond straightforward general observations, to understand and specify the mechanisms underpinning the impact of physical activity on the metabolism. To do so, they studied metabolic blood biomarkers, which are indicators of general health and, more specifically, cardiovascular health.


Short, intense exercise sessions have a significant effect on blood biomarkers

The team of researchers therefore conducted a prospective interventional study on a sample of 411 patients with an average age of 50 years.2 The researchers measured levels of 588 blood metabolites before and after 12 minutes of intense exercise in order to better understand the mechanisms of exercise on health. For 85% of the metabolites studied, i.e., 502 metabolites, marked changes were observed between the exercise phase and the rest phase. In particular, the researchers observed a 29% reduction in the metabolites implicated in insulin resistance, such as glutamate and, conversely, a 33% increase in metabolites promoting lipolysis. However, according to the study, the metabolite changes varied depending on factors such as body mass index, exercise duration and the sex of the participants in the study.

According to the scientists, intense exercise for around 12 minutes elicits marked changes in certain metabolites responsible for good cardiovascular health, in particular.

This study therefore suggests that short periods of physical activity are beneficial to health and enables more personalized management to be envisaged for people with conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, for instance.



  1. Busch AJ, Webber SC, Brachaniec M, Bidonde J, Bello-Haas VD, Danyliw AD, Overend TJ, Richards RS, Sawant A, Schachter CL. Exercise therapy for fibromyalgia. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2011 Oct;15(5):358-67. doi: 10.1007/s11916-011-0214-2. PMID: 21725900; PMCID: PMC3165132.


  2. Nayor M, Shah RV, Miller PE, Blodgett JB, Tanguay M, Pico AR, Murthy VL, Malhotra R, Houstis NE, Deik A, Pierce KA, Bullock K, Dailey L, Velagaleti RS, Moore SA, Ho JE, Baggish AL, Clish CB, Larson MG, Vasan RS, Lewis GD. Metabolic Architecture of Acute Exercise Response in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community. Circulation. 2020 Nov 17;142(20):1905-1924. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.050281. Epub 2020 Sep 15. PMID: 32927962.