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The Metabolic Benefits of Exercise

Molecules in blood from exercise suppresses hunger in mice.

Metabolic Benefits of Exercise

Scientists are coming closer to understanding molecular changes that provide some of the metabolic benefits of exercise. Stanford Medicine and Baylor University researchers found that mice who exercise produce an enzyme “Lac-Phe,” referred to by scientists as the “anti-hunger” molecule. When they injected Lac-Phe in obese mice, the mice lost weight and ate less.

Other studies show that exercise in humans and in racehorses also increases blood levels of Lac-Phe. “This suggests that Lac-Phe is an ancient and conserved system that regulates feeding and is associated with physical activity in many animal species,” said study author Jonathan Long, PhD, assistant professor of pathology at Stanford Medicine.

More research on the metabolic benefits of exercise is recommended. Researchers note that the goal is to learn more to capture benefits for therapeutic interventions; for example, for older or frail people who cannot exercise enough.

The study is reported in Nature (2022; 606, 785–90).

See also: Why the Benefits of Exercise Vary

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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