How exercise can mimic the effects of youthful cells
Evidence suggests that exercise creates a molecular profile in muscle that is consistent with the expression of youthful-promoting Yamanaka factors.
A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology has further supported the idea that exercise can help maintain youthful qualities in aging organisms. This research builds upon earlier experiments with lab mice who were near the end of their lifespan and had access to a weighted exercise wheel.
For this paper, the researchers from the University of Arkansas compared aging mice that had access to a weighted exercise wheel with mice that had undergone epigenetic reprogramming via the expression of Yamanaka factors.
The Yamanaka factors are four protein transcription factors that can revert highly specified cells (such as a skin cell) back to a stem cell, which is a younger and more adaptable state.
The researchers determined that exercise promotes a molecular profile consistent with epigenetic partial programming. That is to say: exercise can mimic aspects of the molecular profile of muscles that have been exposed to Yamanaka factors (thus displaying molecular characteristics of more youthful cells).
The lead author of the paper is Kevin Murach, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, sees their research as further validation of exercise as a polypill.
“Exercise is the most powerful drug we have,” he says, and should be considered a health-enhancing — and potentially life-extending — treatment along with medications and a healthy diet” he said.