- Doctors call physical exercise the “polypill” because it can prevent and treat many chronic diseases associated with aging.
- A new study of muscle fibers from rats and humans shows how exercise affects gene expression.
- Exercise-induced changes “reprogram” the epigenetic expression of fibers to a more youthful state.
- The findings may provide leads for the development of drugs to mimic these benefits in people who are unable to exercise.
Research shows that people who exercise regularly not only strengthen their muscles but also improve their overall health, regardless of how late in life they start.
For example, recent studies have found that exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in older people.
Conversely, decreased muscle mass and strength are associated with lower quality of life and higher mortality from all causes.
As a result of its proven ability to prevent and treat many chronic diseases at low cost, doctors have called exercise a drug-free “polypill” that can benefit nearly everyone.
“Exercise is the most powerful medicine we have,” Dr. Kevin Murach, assistant professor at the Exercise Science Research Center, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.
He believes exercise should be considered a health-enhancing, potentially life-extending treatment, along with medications and a healthy diet.
Scientists hope that a better understanding of how exercise rejuvenates aged muscles at the molecular level will provide clues to future anti-aging therapies.
Exercise can turn back the clock in muscle fibers by promoting “epigenetic reprogramming” of chromosomes in the nuclei of cells.
In 2012, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka shared
The four factors are called Oct3/4, Klf4, Sox2, and Myc, or OKSM for short.
In a new study, the results of which have been revealed
In addition, they compared the effects of the OKSM factors on muscle with those of a single transcription factor, Myc. Scientists have found that exercise inspires expression. Myc to a greater extent than the other three factors.
The researchers also examined how exercise alone affected gene expression in muscle fibers from both mice and humans. The mice were 22 months old, which is roughly equivalent to a human age of 73 years.
Mice in the exercise group were free to run on a no-weight wheel for the first week, then, over the next 8 weeks, the scientists made the wheel progressively heavier by adding magnetic weights.
The results suggest that exercise reprograms muscle fibers into a more youthful state through increased expression of genes that specifically make Yamanaka factor. Myc,
Dr. Murach suggests that the findings could one day lead to the development of drugs that supercharge the muscle exercise response in people confined to bed, or the muscles of astronauts in zero gravity.
But he rejects the idea of a pill that boosts expression. Myc Instead of always needing to exercise. For one thing, exercise has beneficial effects throughout the body, not just the muscles.
simultaneously, Myc has been linked to cancer, so there are inherent risks in artificially increasing its expression.
In their paper, the researchers also note that drugs that are gaining a popular reputation as “life-extenders” may actually block some of the beneficial effects of exercise on muscles.
Dr. Murach told medical news today,
“Evidence suggests that ‘life-extending’ drugs such as metformin and rapamycin interfere with the positive benefits of exercise, particularly in skeletal muscle.”
He said it was “not outside the realm of possibility” that the drugs could disrupt the epigenetic reprogramming of muscles that occurs with exercise.
mnt WebMD asked exercise physiologists to recommend the best types of exercise for older people.
“For individuals over 70 I would highly recommend a low-impact, full-body workout with a focus on the lower body and core,” says John C. Logs advised.
“Resistance training is not only appropriate but highly recommended for people in their 70s and beyond,” he said.
“The key is starting slow and building up slowly with consistency,” he said.
,[W]Walking is one activity I recommend, along with resistance and mobility training,” advises Melissa Hendrix Wogan, an exercise physiologist at Joy of Active Living, which provides fitness and health education for older adults.
“In terms of frequency, an older adult can walk every day, assuming they have no contraindications,” she said.
She recommended strength training at least two days a week and mobility training including stretching every day.
The authors of the new study acknowledge that it had some limitations. For example, type of exercise, training status, biological sex, and many other factors can affect gene expression changes associated with exercise.
Furthermore, they stress the importance of investigating the functional consequences of epigenetic reprogramming in skeletal muscle.