A study conducted by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, pediatrics professor, and Ph.D. student Adell Safdar at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario has produced some promising results.
Mitochondria and Aging
According to Tarnopolsky, the study goal was to evaluate the systemic effects of exercise and to find a therapy (i.e. activity) that most people could do if they wanted to. The study focused on cell mitochondria. Mitochondria are found in every cell where food and oxygen are converted into energy. Evidence is showing that as we age our mitochondria break down causing cells to break down. This contributes tissue and organ breakdown leading to signs of aging, such as mental declines, wrinkles, and hair loss.
Modified Mitochondria in Mice
The mice used in this study had genetically modified dysfunctional mitochondria that caused them to prematurely age. Throughout the study half the mice ran 45 minutes at a moderate intensity level on mini treadmills three times a week. (This was intentional to allow for comparison to humans. A human can run on a treadmill 45 minutes at a moderate intensity level three days a week. . .if they so choose.) The other half of the mice remained sedentary.
Improvements to All Organ Systems
After five months of regular exercise the active mice had improvements not only with their running capacity, muscles, and heart, but also improvements were noted in the brain, gonads (ovaries and testicles), skin, hair, spleen, kidneys, and liver. According to Tarnopolsky's the organ improvements weren't mildly better, but 100% improvement. The active mice also displayed shinier, fuller fur and a more robust frame. The active mice looked as young and healthy as wild-type mice (mice without a genetic mutation). The sedentary mice were losing fur, graying, and shrinking in size.
Observed in their cages, the active mice scurried about while the inactive mice huddled in a corner.
What does this mean for you?
You must be active regularly for optimal health.
Studies have shown that physically active individuals who exercise regularly have fewer chronic diseases and live longer lives.
It's not too late to start. There are still benefits to being active even if you are over the age of 65 when you start. Plus, you don't have to run 45 minutes on a treadmill three times a week to see benefits. Just a little activity can lead to improved heart health. What's important is that you get up and get moving.