By now everybody knows that exercise is good for them. From helping to develop strength, maintain lean muscle mass, burn fat, sleep better, and even help avoid certain diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
But did you know it can help you at the cellular level which can help delay the aging process?
What I find fascinating at the moment in the world of exercise science is the in depth studies of exercise in relation to the brain and the cells. Recently, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64.
Baseline measures were determined for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels, the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells. Then, the group was broken up into 3 groups for a specific exercise protocol for 12 weeks.
Group A: Weight training only
Group B: Interval cardio training (bouts of hard effort followed by easy efforts)
Group C: 30 min steady cardio, plus a little bit of weight training
After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated with some interesting results. Group A as expected came back with increased muscle mass and overall strength. Group B increased endurance far more than the other 2 groups.
The astonishing results came from looking at the muscle cell activity. The younger subjects who went through interval training had positive changes in cellular activity level in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes for steady cardio and 74 for weight lifters.
Among the older group (older than 64), the activity difference at the cellular level was even more noticeable. The interval training group increased activity level of 400 genes, compared to 33 for weight lifters and only 19 for moderate exercise.
The cells affected are believed to influence the capability of the mitochondria, which is basically the mothership of the cell. If you can remember back to biology class in high school, the mitochondria is referred to as the “powerhouse” of the cell. Without enough of them (and without increasing their activity levels), the cell does not function properly and eventually dies off.
According to the director of the study, Dr Sreekumaran Nair, it seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense exercise. He also mentioned that the ideal workout would be interval workouts such as Tight-N-Tone and the K-Fit Experience. These two are the like the organic fountain of youth.
Ok, maybe he didn’t add that last part in… but it’s nice to know that all those interval on the assault bike at Studio K-Fit is not just for giggles and toning your butt. It can also maximize your health on a cellular level. And as the studies demonstrated, it’s certainly never too late to start training.
Interval training continues to be king in the world of fitness, at least for those interested in slowing down that aging process and keeping the heart and mind in peak condition.
Keep training smart!
Committed to your health,