December 26, 2013
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Exercise combats negative effects of overeating, decreased physical activity

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Short-term overeating and reduced physical activity significantly affects insulin sensitivity and adipose tissue gene expression, though daily exercise counteracts long-term effects, according to a study in The Journal of Physiology.

The study included 26 healthy, habitually active men aged 18 to 32 years. Researchers required one group of participants to reduce their physical activity, while the other group was required to run on the treadmill for 45 minutes each day. All study participants increased their daily food intake.

Researchers found that short-term overeating and reduced physical activity lowered participants’ insulin sensitivity and altered expression patterns of several genes and proteins within adipose tissue. The genes that were affected are involved in nutritional homeostasis, metabolism, and insulin action processes. Daily vigorous exercise decreased and in some cases, prevented these changes.

“Our study shows that short-term overfeeding combined with reduced physical activity induced a reduction in insulin sensitivity, hyperinsulinaemia and altered expression of several key genes within adipose tissue,” study researcher Jean-Philippe Walhin, PhD, from the University of Bath in England, and colleagues concluded. “The addition of daily vigorous-intensity exercise mostly prevented these changes independent of any net effect on energy imbalance. Whether this is facilitated by regular glycogen turnover or some other consequence of muscle contraction per se remains to be explored. These results demonstrate that exercise has a profound effect on physiological function even in the face of a considerable energy surplus.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures