A recent study, using mice, shows the importance of exercise in slowing down the ageing process (Safdar, Bourgeois, Ogborn, Little, Hettinga, Akhtar, Thompson, Melov, Mocellin, Kujoth, Prolla & Tarnopolsky, 2011). In mice with a genetic defect, leading to premature ageing, which mimics the ageing process in humans, exercise was able to markedly slow down the decline. It is reported that the mice used in this study presented with a genetic defect in mitochondrial (energy centre of our cells) function that leads to multi-system pathology and moreover, to a reduced lifespan. A mouse model may not be ideal for future life expectancy studies, however, it provides informative physiological effects for further analysis.
In this study, endurance exercise (treadmill running three times a week) led to an increase in mitochondrial production and prevented the DNA depletion and mutations associated with chronic disease and ageing. The exercise rejuvenated the
mitochondria, and eliminated the aged appearance and premature mortality seen in similar mice who were not exercising.
Safdar, A., Bourgeois, J.M., Ogborn, D.I., Little, J.P., Hettinga, B.P., Akhtar, M., Thompson, J.E., Melov, S., Mocellin, N.J., Kujoth, G.C., Prolla, TA. & Tarnopolsky, M.A. 2011. Endurance exercise rescues progeroid aging and induces systemic mitochondrial rejuvenation in mtDNA mutator mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 108, 10, 4135-4140.