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Researchers Shocked by Exercise Effects

A recent study found that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely -- and that was the least of the benefits.  The researchers were actually startled to find that exercise affected every tissue and bodily system they examined.

The scientists examined lab rodents that carried a genetic mutation affecting how well their bodies repaired malfunctioning mitochondria, which create fuel for cells. Many scientists consider the loss of healthy mitochondria to be an important underlying cause of aging.

The mice developed malfunctioning mitochondria as early as 3 months of age, and by the time they reached 8 months, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit -- except the mice that exercised.  At 8 months, exercising rats remained youthful.  None of the exercising mice had died of natural causes by one year of age, whereas all of the nonexercising rats had died.

The New York Times reports:

“But perhaps most remarkable, although [the exercising rats] still harbored the mutation that should have affected mitochondrial repair, they had more mitochondria over all and far fewer with mutations than the sedentary mice had.”

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