Study: Exercise, even if infrequent, leads to healthy results

A study conducted by members of the kinesiology department found that of young women who don’t exercise regularly, those who complete a single bout of exercise may improve their metabolism, indicating that any exercise can be useful in controlling triglycerides.

The study, published in the February edition of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, reported that women who exercised before eating a meal high in carbohydrates reduced the elevation of triglycerides in their bodies.

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in many foods. Calories from a meal that are not used are converted to triglycerides.

The study involved 20 women from ages 18 to 25 who had not exercised on a consistent basis the previous six months. The researchers divided the women into two groups of 10 normal-weight women and 10 overweight women, according to body mass index, and analyzed their blood after eating a high-carbohydrate meal, according to the study. The participants were also told to exercise for one hour on stationary bikes a separate day before eating another meal, and according to the study each group of women showed reduced triglyceride levels after exercising.

Joel Mitchell, lead researcher on the project and chair of the kinesiology department, said high triglyceride levels contribute to the development of the plaque that blocks arteries. The triglyceride-lowering effect was present even if the young woman did not regularly exercise and was overweight, he said.

Mitchell and kinesiology professor Meena Shah worked with James Rowe and Austen Watkins, alumni of the department’s master’s degree program and researchers at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Rowe said he used the research for his master’s thesis.

Shah said what people can learn from the study is that any exercise, even if it is not chronic exercise, can be useful in controlling the triglyceride response.

Rowe said most similar studies focused on the results of high-fat meals on men.

“I wanted to make my study more unique and increase its chances of getting published so I looked at specifically women,” Rowe said.

Mitchell said many of the apparently healthy young women in the study showed troubling metabolic responses.

“They are already showing some responses that when they are 40 or 50, if they don’t do something about it, could potentially manifest itself as disease,” Mitchell said. “It kind of heightens the awareness that even though you are young and healthy when you are 20, your lifestyle can catch up to you.”