The Impact of Exercise on a Cellular Level

If you thought exercise was about looking fabulous on the outside and cool workout clothes, guess again.

There’s a lot more going on that you might not notice immediately. It’s all happening on a cellular level.

Researchers, recently have indicated how exercise benefits the body on a cellular level.

A recent study shows how high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training boost cell health.  The study (Cell Metabolism (2017; 25 [3], 581–92), which included 36 men and 36 women categorized as “young” (aged 18–30) or “older” (aged 65–80), took muscle biopsies, did lean mass and insulin sensitivity tests, and then compared the results with those from a sedentary control group.

What they found was that the exercise groups showed improvements in cellular function and in the ability of mitochondria (cells throughout our bodies that are responsible for creating 90% of the energy needed to sustain life and support organ function) to generate energy; adding further evidence that exercise does in fact slow the aging process at a cellular level. Muscle mass and insulin sensitivity also improved.

According, to the study, combining strength training and HIIT is best. Although HIIT proved best at improving cellular health, it was less effective at increasing strength and muscle mass than strength training.

Another study, published in the medical journal Preventive Medicine, finds that people who engage steadily in high levels of physical activity have suggestively longer telomeres than those who have sedentary lifestyles, or who are moderately active.

Telomeres are the protein endcaps of our chromosomes. Consider it your biological clock and how they correlate with age, how our cells age. Each time a cell replicates, we lose a tiny bit of the endcaps. Therefore, the older we get, the shorter our telomeres.

Adults with high physical activity levels have telomeres with a biological aging advantage of nine years over those who are sedentary, and a seven-year advantage compared to those who are moderately active. Telomere length is also closely related to two factors, knowing that exercise can suppress inflammation and oxidative stress over time.

The bottom line is exercise can instantly boost your mood and metabolism, is beneficial for mental health, helps the body reduce inflammation and can help with digestion. So, why is it even a question or dawdle as to whether we should or need to exercise. Get out there and get moving!