These three presentations at The Integrative Biology of Exercise VI meeting held 10-13 October 2012 discuss the latest research on the health effects of exercise.

The first found that just a few minutes of exercise could increase calorie burn all day.

The five healthy male volunteers lived in a lab room that could measure their daily calorie expenditure. On one day, they did sprint intervals on a stationary bicycle, consisting of five 30-second sprints at high resistance, each followed by four minutes of slow peddling with little resistance. During the sprints they were encouraged to give a 100% effort. On the day when they did the sprint intervals, they burned off an additional 200 calories even though they just did 2.5 minutes of hard exercise.

The second study examined how exercise could enhance immune function in cancer patients. All but one of the 16 patients had undergone chemotherapy. After chemotherapy the majority of T-cells — immune cells that attack infectious agents and cancer — become senescent and have decreased effectiveness. The study participants underwent a 12-week individualized exercise program, and changes in the ratio of senescent to naive (and more effective) T cells were noted. Most of the participants regained more naive T cells after the exercise program, which had a favorable effect on the senescent to naive cell ratio.

The third study found that exercise could slow the premature cardiovascular aging associated with type 2 diabetes. Fitness levels of people with type 2 diabetes are about 20% lower than those of their nondiabetic peers. This lack of fitness can interfere with the ability to do exercise as well as perform activities of daily life and could lead to early disability or premature death.

Researchers found that 12 to 20 weeks of regular exercise could improve fitness levels in people with type 2 diabetes by 40%. This, however, is still lower than fitness levels of people without diabetes. Please note that since these findings were presented at a meeting, they are preliminary and subject to change until published in a peer-reviewed journal.