curls and you’ll start to see your biceps grow.
enough staircases and you’ll no longer get so out of breath.
laps and you might start noticing you’re sleeping better.
about the less noticeable effects of exercise?
How do you
become healthier in other less visible but critical ways?
exercise can affect your tiniest components — your cells — is still being
A recent study published in Cell Metabolism sheds some light on the
mystery, finding that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) during exercises
like biking and walking increased the capacity of the mitochondria.
Those are the
organelles that produce the energy in cells that keeps us going.
generation capacity decreases as we get older, but the researchers found that,
due to exercise, the cells in study participants made more mitochondrial
proteins as well as the proteins responsible for muscle growth.
researchers said, essentially reversed the effects of aging at the cellular
knew exercise could have an impact on cell function,” the study’s senior
author, Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, of the Mayo Clinic, told Healthline. “Many
age-related changes are related to lack of exercise. But if you deliberately do
it, then you can really reverse most it.”
interval training — brief bursts of high-intensity cardio followed by longer
period of lighter activity or rest — led to a 49 percent increase in
mitochondrial capacity in the muscle cells of volunteers ages 18 to 30.
produced a 69 percent increase in participants ages 65 to 80.
Those were the
two age groups included in the research.
The study divided
volunteers — 36 men and 36 women — into a group that did high-intensity
interval cycling, one that lifted weights, and another that did both.
Researchers then took biopsies from the participants’ thigh muscles.
went beyond interval training causing mitochondrial improvements.
more intense exercises also reduced insulin sensitivity and, thus, susceptibility
the study was intended to help uncover how exercise affects cell functioning,
not necessarily to find the best exercises.
But he would
recommend combining HIIT with strength training to maximize both the
age-reversing cellular benefits and the muscle strength improvement.
He said to
stick with the interval training if you only have time for one.
benefits to health and longevity from exercise have been well established for
more than 70 years, said Jennifer Turgiss, Ph.D., vice president of behavioral
science and advanced analytics at Johnson Johnson Health and Wellness
off a list of ailments that exercise is known to decrease the likelihood of
developing. These include stroke, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular
disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers, depression, and anxiety.
says, through new research methods we are starting to learn more about how
physical activity affects us at the cellular level.
“It is early
days for this type of research, so there would be no changes in [exercise]
recommendations yet,” Turgiss told Healthline. “But keep on the watch.”
already use interval training in their exercise programs and the
approach appears to be growing in popularity among non-athletes as well.
For some ideas
on how to apply it in your own exercise routines, look to a study last year that put 27 sedentary men
through 12 weeks of HIIT consisting of three 20-second sprints on a stationary
bike, each followed by 2 minutes of easier riding.
which biked for 10 minutes a day total, saw the same benefits in terms of
aerobic fitness, regulation of blood sugar, and improved function of muscle
cells as men who biked for 45 minutes at 70 percent of their maximal heart