The article which just hit newstands starting with recent evidence gathered by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a genetic metabolic neurologist at McMaster University in Ontario is cited for his research with mice who have chronic disease which speeds aging. His studies show remarkable evidence regarding the impact of exercise. An excerpt from the article:
"That’s remarkable news, if you’re a mouse. And though there are obvious differences between rodents and humans, Tarnopolsky has seen something similar happen in his ill patients. “I’ve seen all the hype about gene therapy for people with genetic disease”–Tarnopolsky treats kids with severe genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy–“but it hasn’t delivered in the 25 years I’ve been doing this,” he says. “The most effective therapy available to my patients right now is exercise. Tarnopolsky now thinks he knows why. In studies where blood is drawn immediately after people exercised, researchers have found that many positive changes occur throughout the body during and right after a workout. “Going for a run is going to improve your skin health, your eye health, your gonadal health,” he says. “It’s unbelievable.” If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”
"So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, courtesy of the protein BDNF, short for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration."
"Next year the NIH will launch its six-year, $170 million study with a group of about 3,000 sedentary people, ranging in age from children to the elderly. They will start an exercise program and then donate blood, fat and muscle before and after they exercise. Scientists will then examine samples for clues to how the body changes with physical activity. A control group that doesn’t exercise will also be tracked for comparison.
As part of the study, researchers will do the same experiment in animals to get tissue samples from places like the brain and the lungs that would be too dangerous to obtain from humans. “It’ll be a tremendously enormous data set,” says Maren Laughlin, program director for integrative metabolism at the NIH, who is also a lead on the new study. In the end, the researchers think they’ll be able to identify every single molecule in the body that’s tweaked or turned on by exercise.
This kind of study–its size, its rigor, its aims–is a first, and experts are hoping it will give doctors the evidence they need to start treating exercise like the miracle drug they’ve long thought it to be. “If you think of exercise as a true form of medicine, which it is, it’s not good enough to just look at a patient and say, ‘You need to do more exercise,'” says Bamman, director of the Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “That’s no better than handing someone a bottle of pills and saying, ‘Here, take a few,'” with no other explanation.
"In addition to the heart, muscles, lungs and bones, scientists are finding that another major beneficiary of exercise might be the brain. Recent research links exercise to less depression, better memory and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is, as of now, the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, which is second only to cancer as the disease Americans fear most, according to surveys.
Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain for the better, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, courtesy of the protein BDNF, short for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. “I always tell people that exercise is regenerative medicine–restoring and repairing and basically fixing things that are broken,” Bamman says.
I am excited about the news that the prestigious NIH is sponsoring a study to offer conclusive proof for the value of exercise.