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Exercise preserves physical fitness during ageing, study


Boston, US – Researchers’ findings on exercise helps when people age may represent promising strategies for promoting muscle function during ageing.

The Boston US study has opened the door to new ways for promoting muscle function for older people. The results will be of particular interest to older people who are still active and ExerciseNZ.

Proven to protect against a wide array of diseases, exercise may be the most powerful anti-ageing intervention known to science.

However, while physical activity can improve health during ageing, its beneficial effects inevitably decline. The cellular mechanisms underlying the relationship among exercise, fitness and ageing remain poorly understood.

Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston investigated the role of one cellular mechanism in improving physical fitness by exercise training and identified one anti-ageing intervention that delayed the declines that occur with ageing in the model organism.  

Exercise has been widely employed to improve quality of life and to protect against degenerative diseases, and in humans, a long-term exercise regimen reduces overall mortality.

The research data identify an essential mediator of exercise responsiveness and an entry point for interventions to maintain muscle function during ageing.

That essential mediator is the cycle of fragmentation and repair of the mitochondria, the specialised structures, or organelles, inside every cell responsible for producing energy.

Mitochondrial function is critical to health and restoring the connectivity among the energy-producing organelles has been linked to the development and progression of chronic, age-related diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When people’s muscles undergo a pattern of fatigue and restoration after an exercise session, they are undergoing this mitochondrial dynamic cycle.

The scientists determined that a single exercise session induces a cycle of fatigue and physical fitness recovery that is paralleled by a cycle of the mitochondrial network rebuilding.

They also tested known, lifespan-extending interventions for their ability to improve exercise capacity during ageing.

An important goal of the ageing field is to identify interventions that not only extend lifespan but also enhance health and quality of life. In ageing people, a decline in muscle function and exercise tolerance is a major concern that leads to substantial morbidity.