Just a few minutes of movement can change 9,800 molecules in your body.

It's no secret that exercise is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. From boosting your endorphins to maintaining a healthy heart, doctors have long recommended a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise five times each week for your health. Now researchers are taking a closer look at how your body changes internally due to physical movement.

woman exercising
Credit: Getty: The Good Brigade

A new study published in the journal Cell shows that 9,815 molecules in the blood change with key pathways stimulated in a series of events that researchers compared to a symphony of music. The study found that just four minutes of physical activity can lead to several changes in metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune pathways. "Different sections are playing at different times, but when it all comes together, it makes beautiful music," Michael Snyder, lead author and chairman of the genetics department at Stanford University in California, told TODAY.

For the study, 36 volunteers spent about 10 minutes on a treadmill to reach their peak exercise capacity. Their blood was drawn before the workout, then again two minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour after they stopped. An analysis of the samples showed that exercise resulted in "extensive changes" in 57 percent of the 17,662 molecules in the blood. However, researchers found that insulin-resistant participants had an immune and metabolic exercise response that was not as strong as others.

While volunteers only participated in aerobic exercise, researchers are curious to see if other forms of exercise such as yoga, weight lifting, and barre. "Exercise is probably the most important thing to help healthy aging," Snyder told TODAY. "It really is a systemic effect. It helps your whole body because it's affecting all of these different things: your metabolism, your immune function, it really engages your whole system. Exercise is the number one thing for health, even more than food, many would say."


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