A single workout session consisting of three 20-minute treadmill runs could activate neurons that are important regulators of blood glucose levels and energy balance as well as influence metabolism for up to two days, says a study over mice.
The findings showed that a single bout of exercise for mice could boost the activity of energy-burning neurons and inhibit the counterpart one for up to two days and those changes can last longer with more training.
"It doesn't take much exercise to alter the activity of these neurons," said Kevin Williams, a neuroscientist at University of Texas Southwestern.
"The study predicts that getting out and exercising even once in a semi-intense manner can reap benefits that can last for days, in particular with respect to glucose metabolism," he added.
Further, a single workout consisting of three 20-minute treadmill runs caused a decrease in appetite that lasted up to six hours.
"This result may explain at the neural circuit level why many people don't feel hungry immediately after exercise," Williams said.
For the study, published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, the team measured the effects of short- and long-term exercise on two types of neurons that comprise the melanocortin brain circuit. Both humans and mice have this circuit.
One of the neuron types is associated with reduced appetite, lower blood glucose levels, and higher energy burning when activated while the other type increases appetite and diminishes metabolism when activated.
The study also provides avenue to research potential treatments to improve glucose metabolism in patients with conditions such as diabetes.
"It is possible that activating melanocortin neurons may hold therapeutic benefits for patients one day, especially for diabetics who need improved blood-glucose regulation," Williams said.
"This research is not just for improving fitness. A better understanding of neural links to exercise can potentially help a number of conditions affected by glucose regulation," he noted.