Aging takes a powerful toll on our body that goes deep into the cellular level. As we age, our cells lose the capability to regenerate like we were younger. Special cellular components that produce energy called mitochondria diminish in number, too.
Exercise is an important part of our lives, there’s no doubt. But researchers have discovered that different exercises have different cellular impact. A recent study published by in Cell Metabolism may have the answer on which exercises save our mitochondria and slow down their deterioration, which ultimately causes us to feel more energetic and age slower.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic conducted the study by gathering 72 healthy but not active men and women. There were different age groups like 30 and younger, along with another older age group that consisted of 64 year olds and up. They were all measured everything from blood sugar levels to gene activity and were each randomly assigned a specific exercise regime.
A part were assigned heavy weight training several times a week, others did interval training a few days a week on a stationary bike and some did moderate training, riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes and did light weight lifting some other days.
After 12 weeks, it was obvious that all of the participants had improvements in their health. But there were unexpected results that shocked most. When the researchers biopsied muscle cells from the younger participants who did interval training, they found that the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those that exercised moderately and 74 for those that did only weight lifting.
The older participants that did interval training had a whopping 400 active genes, compared with 33 for weightlifters and 19 for those that did moderate exercise.
The affected genes, especially those of the interval exercisers, are believed to help mitochondria produce more energy for the muscle cells. Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, Professor at the Mayo Clinic, states that cellular damage associated with aging can be “corrected” especially with intensive interval training. In fact, the cells of the older subjects responded better and more robust than those of the younger subjects. He adds to this that’s it’s never too late to benefit from exercise.