Regular exercise is widely considered to be essential to a healthy lifestyle, with innumerable benefits for the body and mind. Now, new research published in the Journal of Physiology deepens the case for the youthfulness-promoting effects of exercise on aging organisms, building on previous work done with lab mice nearing the end of their natural lifespan that had access to a weighted exercise wheel.
The paper, titled “A molecular signature defining exercise adaptation with ageing and in vivo partial reprogramming in skeletal muscle,” shows that exercise promotes a molecular profile consistent with epigenetic partial programming, indicating that exercise can mimic the molecular profile of muscles that have been exposed to Yamanaka factors (thus displaying molecular characteristics of more youthful cells).
The Research: Examining the Molecular Profile of Exercise
A team of 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 study aimed to determine the extent to which exercise simulates partial molecular reprogramming in muscle.
The researchers compared the skeletal muscle of mice who had been allowed to exercise late in life to the skeletal muscle of mice that overexpressed OKSM in their muscles, as well as to genetically modified mice limited to the overexpression of just Myc in their muscles. The team ultimately determined that exercise promotes a molecular profile consistent with epigenetic partial programming, displaying molecular characteristics of more youthful cells.
The Benefits of Exercise on Aging
The benefits of exercise on aging are not limited to the molecular level. Exercise can promote functional improvements in aged tissues, allowing for better mobility and independence in older adults. In addition, late-life exercise training lowered murine DNA methylation age according to several contemporary muscle-specific clocks. These clocks measure the epigenetic aging of tissues and are good indicators of biological age, so the study’s findings suggest that exercise could slow the aging process at the molecular level.
Future Directions for Research
While the results of the study are promising, there is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand the relationship between exercise, molecular programming, and aging. More studies are needed to determine the mechanisms by which exercise promotes the molecular profile of muscles that have been exposed to Yamanaka factors, as well as the specific actions of Myc in muscle. Additionally, researchers must investigate whether the benefits of exercise extend beyond skeletal muscles and to other tissues and organs throughout the body.
Overall, the research indicates that regular exercise can have profound benefits for the aging process at the molecular level. The study provides evidence that exercise can promote a molecular profile consistent with epigenetic partial programming and slow down the aging process. These findings suggest that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and can help us lead longer, healthier lives.