We’ve all been there. You get into a steady workout routine only to skip a day, and then skip another, and another, until you convince yourself that you might as well write the week off and pick up your workout routine next week. But the truth is, you don’t have to work out consistently every day for the rest of your life in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and see the results you want. In fact, one workout does more than you might realize.
According to a recent study from the UT Southwestern Medical Center, one workout may be able to influence your metabolism for several days. The study looked at the neurons in mice that influence metabolism and found that those neurons remain active in the brain for up to two days after a single workout. The neurons that were seen to remain active after exercise are known as POMC neurons. They make up part of the melanocortin brain circuit and are associated with reduced appetite, lower blood glucose levels, and spiked metabolism and energy burning. According to Dr. Kevin Williams, a neuroscientist at UT Southwestern, these results prove “that getting out and exercising even once in a semi-intense manner can reap benefits that can last for days”.
Along with long term metabolism effects, a single workout was also shown to suppress appetite immediately. Scientists found that a single workout, even as simple as 20 minutes on the treadmill) caused a decrease in appetite that lasted for a total of 6 hours. But exercise and weight loss isn’t the only field to benefit from these findings. Understanding how the melanocortin brain circuit functions and how to better regulate blood glucose levels will hopefully lead to therapies for those with diabetes.
“This research is not just for improving fitness,” Dr. Williams said. “A better understanding of neural links to exercise can potentially help a number of conditions affected by glucose regulation.”
So, the next time you decide to take a week off and feel guilty for sitting on the couch all weekend, remember that all it takes is one workout to do your body some good. Go for a 20 minute walk, take ten minutes out of your day to lift some weights, go for a bike ride. It doesn’t take much to activate those POMC neurons, ultimately boosting your metabolism and regulating your blood glucose levels.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Single workout can boost metabolism for days: Study offers insight into brain’s potential role in fitness, diabetes therapy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181204143854.htm>.