Another Revealing Study on Exercise

April 3, 2011 by  
Filed under inspiration

I came across yet another study done on exercise that I wanted to share (am I overdoing this whole exercise study thing here? Please let me know. But I do find these studies endlessly fascinating)

We all know that physical activity is beneficial in countless ways, but even so, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was startled to discover that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely.

But shiny fur was the least of its benefits. Indeed, in heartening new research published recently in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.
In the experiment, Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lab rodents that carry a genetic mutation affecting how well their bodies repair malfunctioning mitochondria, which are tiny organelles within cells. Mitochondria combine oxygen and nutrients to create fuel for the cells. ( Just to let you know, mitochondria are microscopic power generators. I learn from these studies too)

Mitochrondria have their own DNA, distinct from the cell’s own genetic material, and they multiply on their own. But in the process, mitochondria can accumulate small genetic mutations, which under normal circumstances are corrected by specialized repair systems within the cell. Over time, as we age, the number of mutations begins to outstrip the system’s ability to make repairs, and mitochondria start malfunctioning and dying.

Many scientists consider the loss of healthy mitochondria to be an important underlying cause of aging in mammals. As resident mitochondria falter, the cells they fuel wither or die. Muscles shrink, brain volume drops, hair falls out or loses its pigmentation, and soon enough we are, in appearance and beneath the surface, old.

The mice that Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lacked the primary mitochondrial repair mechanism, so they developed malfunctioning mitochondria early in their lives, as early as 3 months of age, the human equivalent of age 20. By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50 or 55 minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs.

But perhaps most remarkable, although they still harbored the mutation that should have affected mitochondrial repair, they had more mitochondria over all and far fewer with mutations than the sedentary mice had. At 1 year, none of the exercising mice had died of natural causes. (Some were sacrificed to compare their cellular health to that of the unexercised mice, all of whom were, by that age, dead.)

The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the impact that exercise had on the animals’ aging process, Dr. Tarnopolsky said. He and his colleagues had expected to find that exercise would affect mitochondrial health in muscles, including the heart, since past research had shown a connection. They had not expected that it would affect every tissue and bodily system studied.

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab,  have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown. In this experiment, running resulted in an upsurge in the rodents’ production of a protein known as PGC-1alpha, which regulates genes involved in metabolism and energy creation, including mitochondrial function.

Exercise also sparked the repair of malfunctioning mitochondria through a mechanism outside the known repair pathway; in these mutant mice, that pathway didn’t exist, but their mitochondria were nonetheless being repaired.
Dr. Tarnopolsky is currently overseeing a number of experiments that he expects will help to elucidate the specific physiological mechanisms. But for now, he said, the lesson of his experiment and dozens like it is unambiguous. “Exercise alters the course of aging,” he said.

Although in this experiment, the activity was aerobic and strenuous, Dr. Tarnopolsky is not convinced that either is absolutely necessary for benefits. Studies of older humans have shown that weightlifting can improve mitochondrial health, he said, as can moderate endurance exercise. Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.

The potential benefits have attractions even for the young. While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said.
After reading a study like this, I always think if they could put exercise in a pill form and sell it, the pill would cost a fortune, due to the benefits it offers. But exercise does not cost anything except our time and energy. Not a bad deal!

Upper Body Strength Exercises

October 8, 2010 by  
Filed under oomph! to go videos

Upper Body Strength Exercises from oomphTV on Vimeo.

Lower Body Strength Exercises

October 3, 2010 by  
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Lower Body Strength Exercises from oomphTV.

Exercise Can Offset Obesity Linked Genes

September 5, 2010 by  
Filed under health

Over the years I have engaged in conversations with friends, neighbors and relatives about the issue of how your family genes plays a role in your own weight. The general assumption has been that we are basically a slave to one’s own genetic make up. Over the past few years more and more studies have come out underscore a different point of view.

According to many recent studies, we can influence our weight and personal health by taking an active role in our own lifestyle. Even people with a strong genetic predisposition to obesity can offset their risk of being over weight by being physically active, according to a study published Tuesday August 31st in the Journal PLoS Medicine.

British researchers examined the effects of 12 genetic variants associated with a higher risk of obesity among 20,430 people in Britain. Researchers calculated a genetic predisposition score for each volunteer that ranged from 0 to 24, representing the number of obesity-related variants they had inherited. (Most of the scores were between 10 and 13.) The volunteers also reported their levels of physical activity.

Armed with that information, the researchers determined that each DNA variant carried a 16% increased risk of obesity among those who were sedentary. But for people who got at least one hour of physical activity per day, the increased risk per variant was only 10% — a reduction of 40%.

In terms of weight gain, each obesity-related gene variant in inactive volunteers was associated with an additional 1.3 pounds in body mass for someone about 5 1/2 feet tall. In people who exercised, the extra body mass was 0.8 pounds, according to the report.

Previous studies have shown that physical activity can offset the effect of genetics, but most have focused on a single gene known as FTO, also known as fat mass and obesity. But many more DNA variants have been linked to obesity in the last three years, said Ruth Loos, program leader at Cambridge University’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit and the study’s senior author.

“The more variants you carry, the more likely you are to be obese,” she said. Gil Atzmon, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y., said the findings underscore that DNA doesn’t necessarily mean destiny.

“The message from this is, if you have a genetic predisposition for some things, you can change your lifestyle and contribute to better health,” he said. Loos said she didn’t advocate genetic testing for obesity at this point because not enough is known about how these and other variants affect weight.

“Knowing if your parents were obese is a better predictor than knowing your genome, since you not only share genes with your family, but lifestyle as well,” she said. But in the future, being aware of one’s genetic makeup may help tailor obesity treatments, she added.

Bionic Nation?

May 4, 2010 by  
Filed under health

The statistics made me pause. Then shudder. According to the Center for Disease Control, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the country, limiting the daily activities of roughly 20 million people and costing more than $80 billion (yes, billion) annually. Osteoarthritis currently afflicts roughly 46 million Americans, and that number is projected to grow to 67 million within a few decades. And get this: The American Academy of Orthopoedic Surgeons predict that the number of first-time total knee replacements is predicted to increase by 673 percent within this same period. 673 percent?

Given the enormity of this disease, all of us need to get up to speed about osteoarthritis. To begin with, what is it?

OA is a major debilitating disease causing gradual loss of cartilage, primarily affecting the knees, hips, hands, feet and spine. If you think that you are not a potential victim because you exercise regularly, stretch, and keep an active lifestyle, you should still be concerned, because here is the rub: While vigorous exercise is essential to every aspect of healthy and successful aging, our joints seem to be rebelling in unison. While some say that repetitive stress associated with certain types of exercise is what wears out our hips and knees, others say that exercise or repetitive activity alone does not cause arthritis in the joint. They add that genetic factors along with added weight and/or the result of a previous injury in which the cartilage is damaged is what promotes arthritis.
So what’s a person to do? Can osteoarthritis really be prevented?

The Arthritis Foundation makes the following recommendations to protect joints and prevent osteoarthritis:

Maintain your ideal body weight. Excess weight puts stress on your joints, especially your hips, knees, back, and feet.

Move. Exercise strengthens muscles around joints, this can help prevent wear and tear on cartilage in a joint.

Maintain good posture. Good posture protects your joints from excessive pressure, especially your neck, back, hips, and knees.

Do a variety of physical activity. Alternate periods of heavy activity with periods of rest. For example, if you do weight training one day, do aerobic exercise the next day. Repetitive stress on joints for long periods of time can cause the excessive wear and tear that can lead to osteoarthritis.

Pay attention to pain. If you have joint pain, don’t ignore it. Pain after activity or exercise can be an indication you have overstressed your joints and that they need to rest.

Forget the weekend warrior. Start new activities slowly and safely until you know how your body will react to them. This will reduce the chance of injury.

Avoid injury to joints. Wear proper safety equipment. Don’t leave helmets and wrist pads at home. Make sure your safety gear is comfortable and fits.
Stay tuned, aging athletes. The sad and brutal fact is that cartilage simply doesn’t grow back!

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