Exercise to Activate Young Genes!

A study recently published by researchers at the Mayo Clinic added to the mounting evidence that healthy lifestyles can turn on young genes that typically become inactive as we age. These genes were not just any genes, they were genes involved in mitochondria activity and health. These genes promote energy and resistance to disease, as we have in our youth. This type of gene activation is our personal fountain of youth!

This study focused on the effect of different forms of exercise on gene activity.

Participants all had similar aerobic fitness levels at the beginning of the study, and were randomly separated into four groups. The first group performed no exercise. A second group performed moderate exercise by cycling for 30 minutes, several times weekly at a moderate pace. A third group started vigorous weight training. The fourth group began intense interval exercise 3 days weekly. This final group would bicycle hard above their anaerobic threshold for 4 minutes, rest for 3 minutes, and repeat this cycle a total of 4 times (a 28 minute workout).

After 12 weeks, muscle biopsies were performed and the results were surprisingly different among the different groups.

Moderate exercisers and weightlifters over 64 years old activated 19 and 34 genes respectively, but those who performed intense interval exercise activated almost 400 genes!

Gene activity is a measurement in the rapidly growing study of epigenetics. In addition to exercise, other factors like sleep, nutritional choices, and stress will affect our gene activity. We have complete control over these aspects of our lifestyle. Therefore, we have the ability to influence our resistance to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even dementia!