Daily exercise can mitigate the effects of overdoing it around the holidays, a small new study suggests.
The Journal of Physiology study showed that people who exercise on a daily basis are less affected by the negative health effects of one week of overeating, such as poor blood sugar control and expression of genes by fat cells linked with metabolic changes.
"Our research demonstrates that a short period of overconsumption and reduced physical activity leads to very profound negative changes in a variety of physiological systems -- but that a daily bout of exercise stops most of these negative changes from taking place," study researcher Jean-Philippe Walhin, of the University of Bath, said in a statement.
The study was small, and included 26 healthy men with an average age of 25. Half of the men were assigned to consume 50 percent more energy by eating more than they normally wold for seven days, while also restricting their physical activity so that they would take fewer than 4,000 steps a day. The other half of the men were assigned to run every day on a treadmill for 45 minutes and to consume 75 percent more energy by eating more than they normally would for seven days (so that the net daily energy surplus would be the same between both groups).
After the week was up, researchers took blood insulin levels and fat tissue biopsies of the men. They found that those assigned to be less active had worse blood sugar control, and also had increased gene expression in their fat cells, which was indicative of unhealthy metabolic changes. Meanwhile, those assigned to be more active showed stable blood sugar levels and less of the unfavorable gene expression changes in their fat cells.