The best type of exercise? A blood test contains clues

And clear patterns have emerged. Levels of 147 proteins were strongly associated with people’s basic fitness, the researchers found. While some of these protein numbers were high and others were low, the resulting molecular profiles indicated how fit a person was.

More intriguingly, a separate set of 102 proteins tended to predict people’s physical responses to exercise. Higher and lower levels of these molecules – few of which overlapped with proteins related to people’s basic physical fitness – prophesied how much a person’s aerobic capacity would increase, if at all, with exercise. exercise.

Finally, aerobic fitness is so strongly related to longevity that scientists cross-checked the levels of the various fitness-related proteins in the blood of people enrolled in a separate health study that included mortality records, and found that protein signatures involving a higher or lower fitness response meant shorter or longer lives.

Taken together, the new study’s findings suggest that “molecular profiling tools may help tailor” exercise plans, said Dr. Robert Gerszten, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and head of the cardiovascular medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which conducted the new study with its lead author, Dr. Jeremy Robbins, and others.

Someone whose blood protein signature suggests that he or she might gain little fitness from a standard and moderate walking, cycling or swimming routine, for example, might be pushed into higher intensity workouts. or resistance training, says Dr. Gerszten.

This area of ​​research is still in its infancy, however, he and Dr. Robbins said. Scientists will need to study many more people, with much wider disparities in their health, fitness, age, and lifestyle, to determine which proteins are most important in predicting an individual’s response to exercise. Researchers also hope to go back and find out where these molecules come from, to better understand how exercise rebuilds our bodies and shapes our health. Expect deeper and more refined results within a few years, says Dr. Gerszten.

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