Recent Research on Exercise, Aging, and Age-Related Disease

Quite a lot of research on exercise in the context of aging and age-related disease has been published in the past few months. More than usual, I think - not just a case of noticing because it is on my mind. Research moves in waves and cycles, just like all other human endeavors. Below you will find links to a selection of these items, those that caught my attention as they passed by.

Along with donating to the SENS Research Foundation and the practice of calorie restriction, regular moderate exercise is just about the best thing you can do for your long term health here and now. Both calorie restriction and exercise have been shown to slow aging to a modest degree in animal studies, and the human data is pretty compelling. It is fair to say that exercise produces greater benefits for a basically healthy individual than any presently available medical technology. It even produces better results than the available therapies for a number of age-related conditions. It is all a matter of degrees, however. That I can say this about exercise is less a glowing recommendation for working out and more a dismal review of medicine as it exists in clinical practice today. The research and development community can and will do better, and I don't think that exercise and calorie restriction will go unbeaten by therapies and enhancements for another decade at this point, but it is still frustrating to be in the midst of such a revolutionary period in life science research, yet to reap the harvest of that progress. We don't want medicine that just slows the inevitable a little, we want the inevitable defeated, removed, cured.

A sizable fraction of the aging research community is interested in mimicking the effects of calorie restriction on health and longevity, using drug discovery to find ways to tinker with the same switches in our biochemistry. The same is true of exercise, though researchers in that case are some years behind on the same path, with some catching up to do. While I'm definitely in favor of taking advantage of exercise, as it is here and it is free, and that is a cost-benefit equation hard to argue with, I'm much less enthusiastic about the panoply of approaches that aim to produce much the same outcome via drugs, some way to modestly slow the progression of degenerative aging by taking a pill or undergoing some form of enhancement such as gene therapy. I think the cost to achieve that goal though, for example, standard issue drug discovery and development is unfavorably high, given the very modest scope of the benefits expected to result. If that was all that could be done, then so be it, but it isn't. There are other alternatives, such as the SENS portfolio of research and development based on repair of the cell and tissue damage that causes aging, that have the potential to achieve rejuvenation rather than slowing of aging, and thus produce far greater benefits to health and longevity.

Exercise may have therapeutic potential for expediting muscle repair in older populations

For many mammals, including humans, the speed of muscle repair slows as they grow older, and it was once thought that complete repair could not be achieved after a certain age. This report shows, however, that after only eight weeks of exercise, old mice experienced faster muscle repair and regained more muscle mass than those of the same age that had not exercised. This is important, as it further highlights exercise's therapeutic potential. To make this discovery, researchers used three groups of mice: old mice that were exercise trained, old mice that were not exercise trained, and young mice that were not exercised trained. In the first group, old mice were trained three days/week for eight weeks. The effect of exercise in aging muscle was measured by comparing the three groups of mice. "This is a clean demonstration that the physiological and metabolic benefits of exercise radiate to skeletal muscle satellite cells, the adult stem cells responsible for repair after injury, even in senescent animals. Strikingly, even as the contractile elements of muscle tissue wane with age, the capacity of the satellite cells to respond to exercise cues is maintained. This aging-resistant retentive property could be added to the list of features that define adult stem cells."

Exercise associated with longer life in patients with heart failure

To conduct the study, the investigators identified 23 randomised trials of exercise that included at least 50 heart failure patients who were followed up for six months or longer. After asking the authors of all 23 studies for individual patient data, they received the information from 20 trials. The 20 trials included 4043 patients with heart failure. The investigators used the individual patient data to assess the impact of exercise on the time to all-cause mortality and first hospitalisation. The investigators found that exercise was associated with an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality and an 11% reduced risk of hospitalisation compared with no exercise. "This analysis did in fact show that there is a mortality benefit from doing exercise. In other words, patients who exercised had a lower risk of death than those who didn't. Patients with heart failure should not be scared of exercise damaging them or killing them. The message for heart failure patients is clear. Exercise is good for you, it will make you feel better, and it could potentially make you live longer."

Run for Your Life: Exercise Protects against Cancer

Exercise may decrease cancer incidence and slow the growth rate of tumors. That's the conclusion of a mouse-based study, reporting that training mice regularly on a wheel decreased the growth of multiple types of tumors, including skin, liver, and lung cancers. Furthermore, mice that exercised regularly had a smaller chance of developing cancer in the first place. The beneficial effects of running went beyond tumor formation and growth, extending to cancer-associated weight loss, a process termed cachexia that is seen in cancer patients. Mice that exercised regularly showed no signs of cancer-associated weight loss in the researchers' lung cancer mouse model.

The researchers say they identified several factors behind the anti-tumor effects of exercise. These anti-cancer effects are linked to the release of adrenaline (also called epinephrine), a hormone that is central to the "fight-or-flight" response. Adrenaline production is known to be stimulated by exercise. The researchers say that, the production of adrenaline results in a mobilization of immune cells, specifically one type of immune cell called a Natural Killer (NK) cell, to patrol the body. These NK cells are recruited to the site of the tumor by the protein IL-6, secreted by active muscles. The NK cells can then infiltrate the tumor, slowing or completely preventing its growth. Importantly, the researchers note that injecting the mice with either adrenaline or IL-6 without the exercise proved insufficient to inhibit cancer development, underlining the importance of the effects derived only from regular exercise in the mice.

Midlife fitness is linked to lower stroke risks later in life

In a prospective observational study consisting of 19,815 adults ages 45 to 50, (79 percent men, 90 percent Caucasian) researchers measured participants' heart and lung exercise capacity and categorized them as having either a high, middle or low level of fitness. The study found that those with the highest level of fitness had a 37 percent lower risk of stroke after age 65, compared to their counterparts with the lowest level of fitness. This inverse relationship between fitness and stroke risks existed even after researchers considered stroke risk factors: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and atrial fibrillation. The study reinforces the benefits of being physically fit throughout life. "Low fitness is generally ignored as an actual risk factor in clinical practice. Our research suggests that low fitness in midlife is an additional risk to target and help prevent stroke later in life."

Comments

"It is fair to say that exercise produces greater benefits for a basically healthy individual than any presently available medical technology."

So? 100 years ago, life expectancy at birth here in Spain were half than now, and life expectancy for teenagers was 25 years lower than now. And probably they exercised much more than we do today. The same can be said for France. Also for Sweden, if you change "100 years ago" for "150 years ago".

Posted by: Antonio at June 21st, 2016 7:07 PM

@Antonio. Fair; I wasn't being clear. Substitute "single manufactured therapy or enhancement" for "medical technology." That's more clearly the meaning I had in mind. Control of infectious disease, medicine as a whole, keeps us basically healthy, reduces secondary aging, but we can't do much about primary aging.

Posted by: Reason at June 21st, 2016 7:29 PM

''The investigators found that exercise was associated with an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality and an 11% reduced risk of hospitalisation compared with no exercise.''

Exercise is good in moderation, moderation is the key. For patients who suffered heart attacks, it's not moderation it is internal awareness, awareness of one's body's responses.
When you had a heart failure, jumping on the bike or running a marathon is not something you should 'not be afraid of' - but Be afraid of; there is no sense in being scared in life but there
is a sense in being scared when you are about to lose your life from a dramatic event (heart attack/failure - Almost - causing your death, your chances were so high, you're lucky to be alive).
So NO don't jump in and go exercise. Do, exercise, only and only if, your body responds correctly and tells you it can take it and then you rest. Don't put extreme stress on it by doing intensive cardio exercise or anything like that,
some people after a heart attack can't even get up from bed and stand up on their two feet; it's that debilitating. It's the 'learn to run before you walk', well here you can't you have to relearn, just, to walk.
Over the months and the years after the incident, you can then increase the exercise. These studies don'T talk about people who drop dead from doing exercise after a dramatic event (cardiac failure), you are very very frail and must heal yourself; exercise heals but is a stress itself; you can't put extreme stress on your heart.

''The researchers say they identified several factors behind the anti-tumor effects of exercise. These anti-cancer effects are linked to the release of adrenaline (also called epinephrine), a hormone that is central to the "fight-or-flight" response. Adrenaline production is known to be stimulated by exercise. The researchers say that, the production of adrenaline results in a mobilization of immune cells''

Yes and No. Low/moderate dose, yes, high/extreme dose, no. Fight or Flight is both good and bad (it's only good in short temporary burst for 'emergency' survival mechanism of fighting or running away from deadly threath during cave age/hunt of caveage animals); studies showed that stressful situations accelerate aging dramatically because of increased demand of resources (such is the fight or flight response); the benefits are overshadowed by the negatives.
Stress is the main contributor to cancer formation; people that are Continuously 'stressed out' are producing such an amount of lactic acid and the cell's pH lowers (cell replicative lifespan is correlated to cell pH lowering/acidifying).
Destressing is highly alkalinizing (increase pH), a fight or flight response is muscle acidifying and is a perfect 'haven' for tumor formation as such. That the immune system would be primed by it I'm not surprised; but this simply a 'response' and ends up being a 'hormetic immune' effect. (Stress is good is low dose, exercise...) and thus improving immunity; but extreme stressful situations (like being 'death scared' in a heart attack...activates 'fight or flight' and acidifies beyond immunitary hormetic effect and the damage is - lasting (accelerating oxidative stress which incraeses inflammation (immune system contributes to inflammation, NK cells and inflammatory cytokines are produced; IL-10 antinflammtory too but so does IL-6, and TNF-a and interferon-gamma for the immune response)). Only yourself know your (body's) limits, be on the lookout for them; your organs 'speak/murmures' to you everyday.

Still, the take away message, if you had a deadly disease or event, go slow-mo with exercise and let it come back when you are Really healed inside (the permanent damage you suffered can take Years to repair, as in a atherosclerosis-caused heart attack where LDL-oxidized fatty/fiberous plaques can rupture Again - if you put Too much stress on yourself (physical, emotional, eat bad food, bad habits (smoke or eat 'smoked' bacon - while exercising/very productive! (lol)...)).

Posted by: CANanonymity at June 22nd, 2016 4:05 PM

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