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Developing predictors of the health benefits of exercise for individuals

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Tools to monitor and tailor exercise training for better overall health

Regular physical activity does not have the same effect on fitness for everybody. An EU initiative searched for molecular biomarkers that can predict the impact of exercise on an individual.

Digital Economy
Fundamental Research

Physical exercise has been shown to have a major impact on human health, particularly in areas such as cardiovascular and metabolic disease prevention. But for 20 to 30 % of people, regular exercise has no effect on fitness or insulin sensitivity, so-called exercise resistance. The EU-funded META-PREDICT (Developing predictors of the health benefits of exercise for individuals) project aimed to improve the effectiveness of exercise by determining if individualised lifestyle strategies can be developed to fight or prevent metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Biomarkers are measureable characteristics that can be used as an indicator of whether the body is healthy or is in a particular diseased state. Project partners identified molecular biomarkers and studied responses to exercise and training. To develop personalised lifestyle intervention tools, they used molecular profiling of blood and muscle samples. Specifically, the primary global molecular tool utilised was transcriptomics. This was applied to independent subjects in order to study the impact of resistance, endurance and high-intensity time-efficient exercise training in sedentary, overweight adult men and women. The primary health biomarkers were changes in aerobic fitness and/or glucose tolerance. Researchers studied over 220 subjects who participated in two high-intensity training regimens. The shorter and more intense regimen significantly improved exercise capacity, insulin sensitivity and clearance, lean body mass and mean arterial pressure. The META-PREDICT team successfully set up the largest and most comprehensive biological database of adult humans under supervised exercise training. It developed and validated a new time-efficient exercise model to improve fitness and metabolism. The tool was found to be comparable or superior to traditional time-consuming endurance alternatives. By introducing personalised lifestyle intervention tools, META-PREDICT work and outcomes should improve the healthcare of European citizens.


Exercise, health, fitness, molecular biomarkers, metabolic disease, META-PREDICT

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