When you think of a good workout, no doubt you picture yourself covered in sweat, muscles aching, lungs burning, and pushing yourself to your limits. There’s no doubt about it: vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to burn fat, improve your cardiovascular conditioning, raise testosterone levels, and enhance your overall health.
But as one study proved, it’s not the only way to get healthy. In fact, as researchers from Boston University Medical Center found, moderate exercise can yield beautifully visible results as well. The researchers gathered participants and gave them accelerometers to wear during the day. The accelerometers measured physical activity, as well as the amount of time spent in active and inactive activities. The researchers also measured insulin resistance, metabolic rate, and inflammation of each participant throughout the study.
The data showed that even minor increases in physical activity led to visible improvement in both insulin sensitivity and inflammation. Even if the participants didn’t spend sufficient time exercising or engage in vigorous exercise, they still improved their metabolic health. Their blood contained higher levels of leptin (a satiety hormone that reduces appetite) as well as FABP4, a protein needed for the transportation of fat molecules.
The NIH estimates insulin resistance is a common problem affecting 86 million adults at least in the U.S. alone. With a resistance to insulin (the hormone that regulates blood glucose) comes excessively high blood sugar levels, which can lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes. Pre-diabetics have a significant risk of developing both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which may lead to a stroke or heart attack.
As this study proved, even a small amount of exercise can help to reduce your risk of insulin resistance. It will also decrease inflammation, which plays a role in cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and many other health problems.
Can’t make it to the gym for a proper 60-minute sweat-fest? Don’t worry about it. Even if you only spend 15 to 30 minutes walking around a nearby park, your office building, or your neighborhood, it’s good for your body. You’ll decrease inflammation and improve your glucose control, leading to a decreased risk of both heart disease and diabetes. Given how prominent these two health conditions are in our country, it’s in your best interest to spend more time moving around, even if it’s just mild to moderate exercise.
1. N. L. Spartano, M. D. Stevenson, V. Xanthakis, M. G. Larson, C. Andersson, J. M. Murabito, R. S. Vasan. Associations of objective physical activity with insulin sensitivity and circulating adipokine profile: the Framingham Heart Study. Clinical Obesity, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cob.12177.