And a clear pattern emerged. The researchers found that 147 protein levels were strongly associated with people’s baseline fitness. If some of those protein numbers were high and others low, the resulting molecular profiles indicated how fit one was.
More interestingly, a different set of 102 proteins was used to predict people’s physiological responses to exercise. High and low levels of these molecules – some of which overlap with proteins related to people’s baseline fitness – predicted the extent to which one’s aerobic capacity would increase with exercise.
Finally, because aerobic fitness is so strongly linked to longevity, scientists crossed the levels of various fitness-related proteins in the blood of people enrolled in a separate health study, which included mortality records, and found that the protein signature indicate a low or high fitness response similarly indicated short or long life.
Taken as a whole, the results of the new study suggest that “molecular profiling tools may help design” exercise plans, said Dr. Robert Gerszten, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Said, who along with its lead author Dr. Jeremy Robbins and others conducted the new study.
Someone whose bloodstream protein signature suggests that he or she may gain little fitness from a standard, moderate walking, cycling or swimming routine, for example, may be pointed towards a high-intensity workout or resistance training, Dr. Gerszten said. said.
This area of research is still in its infancy, however, he and Dr. Robbins said. Scientists will need to study more people with far wider disparities in their health, fitness, age and lifestyle on which proteins matter most to predict a person’s exercise response. Researchers also hope to step back and find out where those molecules originated, to better understand how exercise builds our bodies and molds our health. Expect more refined results within a few years, Dr. Gerszten said.