Exercise may prevent or delay a fundamental process of aging. We all know that too much food combined with too little exercise usually results in poor health and disease. Research is now demonstrating that overeating and inactivity also accelerate up the aging process, right down to our cells. At the end of a cell's lifespan, a process called senescence kicks in -- when cells lose the ability to divide and begin secreting substances that damage the surrounding cells. While unhealthy lifestyle habits can amplify this process, a research team led by Thomas A. White at the Mayo Clinic wanted to know if increased exercise could counteract it.
The research group compared mice fed a fast food diet (FFD) for 5 months with those fed a standard chow diet (control). Unlike the controls, the FFD mice developed insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, impaired exercise ability, and heart dysfunction. However, when the FFD mice were given a running wheel, the exercise began to counteract the effects of a poor diet. White et al. observed a number of improvements including body weight, metabolism, and cardiac function. The team also observed a significant decrease in signs of cell senescence and associated inflammation. Their results suggest that lifestyle choices play a major role in cell aging - and that exercise may help protect against aging by interfering with cell senescence. The authors wrote, "Our data clearly show that poor nutritional choices dramatically accelerate the accumulation of senescent cells, and for the first time, that exercise can prevent or delay this fundamental process of aging. Despite the need to better understand the role of cellular senescence in aging and disease, our data underscore the profound impact of lifestyle choices on health and successful aging.” Reference: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "Road to fountain of youth paved with fast food ... and sneakers? Exercise may prevent or delay fundamental process of aging." ScienceDaily, 28 April 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428163639.htm.