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It’s a known fact that exercise helps in increasing the metabolic rate of our bodies which aids in weight loss. A good basal metabolic rate is essential in order to live healthily, and there are many factors such as height, age, lifestyle and gender that affect it.

However, researchers from Denmark studied the effects of different forms of exercise on metabolic hormones and found some interesting results. They found that cardio or endurance training increased a metabolic hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). However, weight or strength training resulted in a decrease in another growth factor hormone known as FGF19.

How the research was conducted

10 healthy young men were recruited and were randomly split into two groups, one for cardio and the other for strength training. The two groups performed exercises according to their group type for about an hour. The intensity level was high where the cardio group cycled at 70% maximum intake of oxygen. The strength training group were given a full body workout in which they performed five different exercises 5-10 times.

After each exercise session, blood samples were taken immediately after the workout and then in intervals for the 3-hour recovery period. Blood samples were used to measure changes in levels of blood sugar, lactic acid, several hormones, and bile acid.

The results

The cardio group’s FGF21 levels rose significantly. One of the key observations made by the researchers was the significant rise in the blood levels of the hormone. The hormone itself may be a topic for future research on how the hormone contributes to the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise. FGF21 is produced in several organs and it actively helps weight loss, glucose control, and reducing inflammation.

Researchers have also proposed that FGF21 could be used as a drug for treating different diseases such as diabetes and fatty liver disease due to its glucose control and fat reduction properties. The results of this research are quite exciting as they open up avenues for new research.

While the levels of FGF21 increased in the cardio group, there was no change for the hormone in the other group. Instead, another metabolic hormone known as FGF19 fell slightly after the workout. This came as a surprise because other studies have suggested that metabolic hormones help in muscle growth. However, those studies had been animal studies, so the case might be different in humans.

FGF19 is produced in the gut and it helps regulate bile acid production and metabolism of glucose and lipids. Therefore, it’s an important hormone and its effects on health should be investigated further.

What to take away from this research

FGFs are important to the body as they are active in biological processes. They help in cell growth, embryonic development, tissue repair and the overall regulation of your metabolism. Therefore, the results of this research are quite interesting and important at the same time.

The outcomes for FGF19 can be investigated further since blood samples were taken in only a 3-hour window, perhaps the benefits from strength training start to set in after the recovery period. Moreover, a greater number of people would also improve results.

Similarly, FGF21 should also be investigated further due to its significant changes inside the 3-hour interval. As Christoffer Clemmensen points out:

FGF21’s potential as a drug against diabetes, obesity, and similar metabolic disorders is currently being tested, so the fact that we are able to increase the production ourselves through training is interesting.”

The new findings from this study, overall are quite exciting. They open up new doors and new areas for research which may perhaps help us understand how our body works even better.

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