In the last few years, the benefits of short, intense workouts have been extolled by both researchers and exercise fans as something of a metabolic panacea capable of providing greater overall fitness, better blood sugar control and weight reduction – all of it in periods as short as seven minutes a few times a week.
Now, in a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) confirm that there is something molecularly unique about intense exercise: the activation of a single protein.
The study, published recently by The EMBO Journal, revealed the effects of a protein known as CRTC2.
The scientists were able to show that following high-intensity exercise, which enlists the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response, CRTC2 integrates signals from two different pathways – the adrenaline pathway and the calcium pathway, to direct muscle adaptation and growth only in the contracting muscle.
“The sympathetic nervous system gets turned on during intense exercise, but many had believed it wasn’t specific enough to drive specific adaptations in exercised muscle,” said Michael Conkright, PhD, a TSRI assistant professor who led the study. “Our findings show that not only does it target those specific muscles, but it improves them — the long-term benefits correlate with the intensity of the workout.”
“We are now searching for molecular therapeutics that will activate the CRTC2 protein so that even an average exercise routine could potentially be enhanced and made more beneficial.”
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Source: Scripps Research Institute. “Molecular secret of short, intense workouts clarified.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2014.
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