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Exercise rejuvenates cells

By strengthening our muscles we can improve our lifespan.

American researchers have found that exercise helps the body to keep the cells in the muscles strong and healthy. According to scientist Zhen Yan exercise improves muscle health by rejuvenating its cellular powerhouse, the mitochondria. “Whether muscle is healthy or not really determines whether the entire body is healthy or not. Exercise capacity, mainly determined by muscle size and function, is the best predictor of mortality in the general population,” said Yan, a lead researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

Exercise has an impact on the mitochondria in muscles through a process known as mitophagy where damaged or defective mitochondria are selected and removed, usually after a period of stress.

Yan and colleagues used genetically modified mice to carry a gene that helps to report on the effects of physical activity to show how exercise induces mitophagy. They observed that mitochondria showing signs of stress after the mice engaged in 90 minutes of treadmill running. After 6 hours they noticed signs of mitophagy. “Aerobic exercise removes damaged mitochondria in skeletal muscle. If you do it repeatedly, you keep removing the damaged ones. You have a better muscle with better mitochondrial quality,” said Yan.

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