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What a Single Workout Can Do for Your Metabolism

If you need workout inspiration, you'll love this: Going to the gym just once pays off in more ways—and for much longer—than anyone thought.


By Emily Cappiello, Reader's Digest

If losing weight, toning up, or just staying active is on your list of things to do, it may be easier than you think to get results. According to a new study by UT Southwestern Medical Center, it seems like just a single workout can boost your metabolism for up to two days.

In the study, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center studied the effect of exercise on the brain—specifically two types of neurons: One is the POMC neuron, which is linked to reduced appetite, lower blood glucose levels, and increased energy burn; the other is called NPY/AgRP, and it seems to increase appetite and slow down metabolism.

Working with mice, the researchers measured brain circuit activity as they followed various training regimens for up to ten days. They found that a single workout (consisting of three 20-minute treadmill runs) can boost the activity of POMC neurons and inhibit the counterpart NPY/AgRP neuron for up to two days. The news gets even better: With each successive day, the positive effect on the neurons lasted longer.

“It doesn’t take much exercise to alter the activity of these neurons,” said Kevin Williams, PhD, a neuroscientist at UT Southwestern, in a press release. 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.” This was especially true for blood sugar control—glucose metabolism.

Another added benefit of a single workout, says Williams, is that you feel less hungry for up to six hours due to the activated neurons. “This research is not just for improving fitness,” Williams said. “A better understanding of neural links to exercise can potentially help a number of conditions affected by glucose regulation.”
Life Tips, workouts tips

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What a Single Workout Can Do for Your Metabolism
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