How to stay young, even in old age: Don’t stop exercising, scientists say

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Exercise helps us stay young, and new research finds that claim to be more literal than most assume. Scientists at the University of Arkansas report that exercise slows down the aging process at the cellular level. The effect remains even if you start exercising later in life.

The team’s animal study used elderly laboratory mice nearing the end of their natural lifespan (22 months) and studied their interactions with a exercise wheel. Mice rarely need motivation to go for a run. Older mice run three to five miles a day and younger mice run six to seven miles a day. The extra weight on the wheel also ensured that the rodents’ muscles got additional training, with the researchers likening the training to “a soldier carrying a heavy backpack for many miles.”

After two months on the weighted wheel, the mice were similar to those eight weeks younger compared to age-matched mice (24 months) who had not exercised.

“Historically, they start to decline after 24 months at a significant rate,” says Kevin Murach, an assistant professor in the U of A Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, in a report. college throw. In other words, an additional eight weeks of youth represents about 10 percent of a mouse’s average lifespan.

Exercise slows down the aging process in your DNA

Much of the science behind these findings is based on DNA methylation. Methylation is when little caps called methyl groups attach to DNA. They act like a switch to turn a specific gene on and off. As the human body ages, DNA methylation increases. Some older adults even experience hypermethylation in muscle genes.

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“Changes in DNA methylation throughout life tend to occur in a somewhat systematic way,” explains Professor Murach, “to the extent that you can look at a person’s DNA from a given tissue sample.” and fairly accurately predict their chronological age.

While the association between methylation and aging is fairly clear, researchers know less about the role of methylation in muscle function. For example, it’s too early to say that exercising and reversing methylation improves muscle health. “That is not what the study was created for,” says Professor Murach. However, he intends to conduct future studies to determine if “changes in methylation result in impaired muscle function.

“If so, what are the consequences of this?” Professor Murach concludes. “Do changes at these very specific methylation sites have an actual phenotype that stems from that? Is it what is causing the aging or is it just associated with it? Is it just something that happens along with a variety of other things that happen during the aging process? So that’s what we don’t know.”

the study is published in Aging cell.

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