Focus |

Focus on exercise metabolism and health

Originally scheduled for publication in time for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, we bring you a special focus on exercise metabolism and health, consisting of Reviews and Commentary revisiting foundational topics and highlighting new paradigms in exercise and muscle metabolism, as well as their broader implications for organismal health. Also, have a look at a selection of recent research articles in the fields of exercise and muscle biology.


As the world came to a standstill in the spring of 2020, so did the work on our Focus issue on exercise metabolism and health, which was originally scheduled for publication to coincide with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Editorial | | Nature Metabolism

Reviews and Comments

Individual differences in physical performance in the sedentary state and in response to exercise training have been observed in rodent and human studies. The genomic variants underlying these genetic components are unknown. Nonetheless, without a rich genetic endowment, world-class athletic performance is out of reach.

Comment | | Nature Metabolism

Cellular metabolic demand skyrockets during intense exercise, thus rendering the communication of metabolic state essential for organismal homeostasis. Murphy, Watt and Febbraio discuss the physiological processes governing intertissue communication during exercise and the molecules mediating such cross-talk.

Review Article | | Nature Metabolism

Exercise is a powerful modifier of organismal, tissue and cellular metabolism. In their Review, Koelwyn et al. highlight how exercise-induced alterations in the tumour microenvironment can affect immunometabolic mechanisms and how these changes may contribute to the benefits of exercise on cancer initiation and progression.

Review Article | | Nature Metabolism

Related Research

Maternal exercise, before and during pregnancy, has a beneficial effect on offspring. Harris et al. report that exercise-induced release of oligosaccharide 3′-sialyllactose in mouse breast milk mediates the metabolic health benefits of maternal exercise on offspring by improving glucose and insulin tolerance and cardiac function.

Letter | | Nature Metabolism

Maternal exercise during pregnancy results in metabolic benefits for offspring, but how mothers transfer these benefits to newborns has been a mystery. A new study now shows that a breast-milk component transmits the metabolic effects of exercise to offspring

News & Views | | Nature Metabolism

Obesity is the result of an imbalance between caloric intake from the diet and energy expenditure. A new study provides evidence that alterations in calcium transport efficiency in muscle lead to an increased metabolic rate and protect mice against diet-induced obesity.

News & Views | | Nature Metabolism

Many commonly used inbred mouse strains carry random mutations that can affect the results of metabolic studies. Yet, awareness of such mutations as a source for experimental variation and seemingly contradictory results is lacking. It is time that scientists pay more attention to the identification, tracking and accurate reporting of mouse strains used in experiments.

Comment | | Nature Metabolism

Further Reading

Moderate exercise improves cardiovascular health and is associated with physiological cardiac adaptations; by contrast, the hearts of endurance athletes can undergo maladaptations, including myocardial fibrosis and arrhythmias. In this Review, Parry-Williams and Sharma discuss whether excessive endurance exercise might damage both diseased and otherwise normal hearts.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Cardiology

Exercise has many beneficial effects on brain health, but how exercise is sensed by the brain has not been well understood. This Review describes evidence that supports the existence of a muscle–brain endocrine loop, in which muscle-induced peripheral factors enable direct crosstalk between muscle and brain.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

The benefits of regular exercise extend beyond its effect on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. In this Review, the authors outline the non-traditional mechanisms underlying the benefits of exercise in CVD and highlight the importance of a holistic view of exercise in cardiovascular health.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Cardiology