And clear patterns emerged. The levels of 147 proteins are strongly related to the baseline condition of humans, the researchers found. If some of these protein numbers were high and others low, the resulting molecular profiles show how fit someone is.
More intriguingly, a single set of 102 proteins usually predicts people’s physical reactions to exercise. Higher and lower levels of these molecules – few of which overlap with proteins related to human basic fitness – predicted the extent to which one’s aerobic capacity would increase, if at all, through exercise.
Finally, because aerobic fitness is so strongly linked to longevity, the researchers checked the levels of various fitness-related proteins in people̵
Overall, the results of the new study show that “molecular profiling tools can help adjust” exercise plans, said Dr. Robert Gersten, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and head of cardiovascular medicine at Harvard Medical Center. Beth Israel Diakones, who conducted the new study with its lead author, Dr. Jeremy Robbins and others.
Someone whose protein signature in the bloodstream suggests that he or she may gain some physical shape from standard, moderate walking, cycling, or swimming, for example, may be targeting more intense or resistance training, said Dr. Gersten.
This area of research is still in its infancy, he and Dr. Robbins said. Scientists will have to study many more people, with far greater differences in their health, fitness, age and lifestyle, to zero, which proteins are most important for predicting the response to exercise. Researchers also hope to go back and find out where these molecules come from to better understand how exercise reshapes our bodies and shapes our health. Expect further and more improved results within a few years, said Dr. Gersten.