Regular exercise can delay the aging process

February 22, 2011 by Lin Edwards report

( -- A team of Canadian scientists working with mice genetically modified to age twice as fast as normal has found regular exercise keeps them young.

Professor of pediatrics and medicine, Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, and colleagues from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario used a litter of mice that had been modified to have a defect in a gene involved in repairing mitochondria, which supply energy for the cells. When the mice were three months old (roughly equivalent to 20 years in humans) they then forced some of the mice to exercise on a for 45 minutes a few times a week, while giving the others no exercise.

The results showed that after five months (when the mice were the equivalent of 60 human years) the exercising mice looked like wild-type mice: younger and healthier and more active than the non-exercising mice, which were almost immobile and had lost much of their hair. The non-exercising mice were also less sociable and less fertile than the exercisers.

The researchers said every tissue and every organ they examined was better in the exercising mice than in those that did not exercise, including the hair, skin, ovaries, testicles, spleen, kidneys, and liver. In the non-exercisers their brains had shrunk and hearts were enlarged, but they were normal size in the exercisers. The anti-aging effects were "unprecedented" and protected every part of the body.

The muscle structure in the exercising mice was normal, while in the sedentary mice it appeared damaged. The mitochondria in the exercising mice appeared young and healthy, while those in the sedentary mice looked old and damaged. This result was the most surprising because have their own DNA, and the accumulation of mutations in their has been thought responsible for the gradual decline in tissue functions during aging, and for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Senior PhD student Adeel Safdar, a co-author of the paper, said the process was not entirely clear, but exercise is a good physiological stressor that forces the body to produce more energy. He said the exercised showed a “huge recovery” in mitochondrial function.

The researchers said the study deliberately kept the exercise regime simple and at only moderate intensity and the results would also apply to humans. Dr Tarnopolsky said he hopes the research will inspire people to get serious about exercising regularly. Other studies have also shown that even people who have been sedentary for a long time benefit enormously from moderate exercise.

Dr Tarnopolsky said that while death is inevitable, is the most potent anti-aging therapy available and can keep us healthy and disease free for longer than anything else.

The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

More information: Endurance exercise rescues progeroid aging and induces systemic mitochondrial rejuvenation in mtDNA mutator mice, Published online before print February 22, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019581108. PNAS

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New, more effective strategy for producing flu vaccines

December 5, 2016

A team of researchers led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has developed technology that could improve the production of vaccines ...

Another step closer to artificial blood

December 5, 2016

(HealthDay)—Artificial blood stored as a powder could one day revolutionize emergency medicine and provide trauma victims a better chance of survival.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 22, 2011

Dr Tarnopolsky said that while death is inevitable, exercise is the most potent anti-aging therapy available and can keep us healthy and disease free for longer than anything else.

I thought calorie restricted diet was the most effective. Maybe if you combine it with excercise you could live even longer?
5 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2011
The question I have would be whether exercise is reducing the effect of aging or whether its just reducing the effect of the specific genetic defect they engineered into these mice.

The mice don't "age" twice as fast, they have a defect that causes them to die in half the time with symptoms that mimic age. That makes a conclusion difficult to reach although the result is very interesting.
4 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2011
Well I guess I'm going to have an un-delayed aging process.

I run only when chased these days...
not rated yet Feb 22, 2011
Exercise is a great way to help your mind a body feel young. Check out great exercises posted on, a free online fitness tool. The site offers step-by-step instruction on hundreds of exercises, video demonstration of workouts, and blogs posted by fitness professionals.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 22, 2011
I run only when chased these days...

You should be ok now. We had an atheist meeting this weekend. I told those guys to stop doing that. ;)
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
OK, but which mouse is more likely to submit a scholarly paper to a recognised philosophical journal???
not rated yet Feb 24, 2011
Maybe it's the additional oxygen due to the exercises? Also, from their study it's hard to say how intensive are the exercises - strength or cardio so to say. Because for me running for 45 mins sounds quite intensive, but for a mouse, I don't know, maybe it's the equivalent of 45 mins walk in the park?
And the intensity is key to any ani-aging conclusion. Because you can make the statistics for people who worked very hard all their lives or for professional athletes and I'm not sure it will say they generally live much longer than other people.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.