Can exercise slow down againg? Study suggests the answer is yes

By Rebecca Burton • Published: June 19th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Exercising regularly can help control your weight, lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and improve your overall health and mood. But, can it also slow down the aging of our body’s cells? A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism suggests it can help.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic split 36 men and 36 women into two groups, those aged 18-30 and those aged 65-80. They were then broken up into three programs: high-intensity interval biking, strength training with weights and a combination of interval and strength training. The researchers took biopsies of the participants’ thigh muscles to compare with a control group of inactive participants.

The high-intensity interval training was more effective at reducing aging at the cellular level, specifically on mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria produce a molecule that is responsible for transporting chemical energy within cells. As we grow older, the ability for our mitochondria to generate energy decreases. But the study suggests exercise, especially high-intensity interval training, can help.

Physical activity helps stimulate cells to make more RNA copies of the genes responsible for mitochondrial proteins as well as proteins that stimulate muscle growth. This effectively reverses the age-related drop in mitochondria.

The findings showed the younger participants had a 49 percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, while the older age group had a 69 percent increase. The researchers noted this was a small study and more work needs to be done. But the results offer one more reason to go break a sweat at the gym: You could be slowing down Father Time.