In a new study, researchers found that high-intensity interval training could effectively stop aging at the cellular level.
The type of exercise can cause cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes.
The research was led by then-post-doc, now University of Oregon faculty member Matthew Robinson and colleagues.
It is known that exercise can boost our immune system, maintains our muscle tone and extends our healthy lifespan.
Although scientists have long suspected that the benefits of exercise extend down to the cellular level, little is known about which exercises help cells to fight against aging.
In the current study, the team found that exercise, particularly the high-intensity interval training in aerobic exercises, could stopping aging at the cellular level effectively.
High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue.
It has been shown to reduce the fat mass of the whole-body effectively.
In the study, the researchers examined 36 men and 36 women from two age groups. One group included ”young” volunteers who were 18-30 years old, and the other group included “older” volunteers who were 65-80 years old.
Both groups joined in three different exercise programs: One was high-intensity interval biking, one was strength training with weights, and one combined strength training and interval training.
The researchers found that while strength training was effective at building muscle mass, high-intensity interval training provided the biggest benefits at the cellular level.
The younger people in the interval training group had a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity, and the older people had an even more dramatic 69% increase.
In addition, interval training also improved insulin sensitivity, which indicates a lower likelihood of developing diabetes.
The team explained that as we age, the energy-generating capacity of cells’ mitochondria slowly decreases.
Interval exercise encourages the cell to make more RNA copies of genes coding for mitochondrial proteins and proteins responsible for muscle growth.
It also may boost the ribosomes’ ability to build mitochondrial proteins.
In some cases, the high-intensity interval training seemed to reverse the age-related decline in mitochondrial function and proteins needed for muscle building.
It also rejuvenated the volunteers’ ribosomes that are responsible for producing cells’ protein building blocks.
These benefits play a big role in delay aging.
The team suggests that future work needs to understand the pathways that exercise uses to work its magic and this may help develop a new method to prevent aging.
One author of the study is Sreekumaran Nair. The study is published in Cell Metabolism.
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