The Body on Exercise

Are elite athletes born or made? At Mass General, a team of cardiologists led by Gregory Lewis, Robert Gerszten, and Clary Clish is trying to answer that age-old question. Over the past few years, they’ve compiled the first full snapshot of an athlete’s metabolites, which are the molecules in the bloodstream that indicate how much, and how fast, fuel is burned by the body.

While the doctors haven’t solved the nature versus nurture question just yet, they have come up with two important findings: Fit individuals showed greater metabolite changes than less-in-shape folks, and all of us can elevate our metabolites by exercising for just 10 minutes. “It’s unknown why people who ­exercise have more long­evity, a higher quality of life, and less cardiovascular disease,” Lewis says. “We’re trying to connect the dots.”

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