Chris Holden

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New Study Finds That Exercise Can Change The Way Our Genes Behave

by Chris Holden - January 16th, 2015.
Filed under: Fitness, Health, Interesting.

Exercise is attributed to many health benefits such as increased fitness, reduced stress and better mood. It also reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Yet the science behind the health benefits of exercise remains a mystery. How exactly does exercise impact our health? What is responsible for creating the health benefits of physical activities such as jogging? 

A new study that has been published in December of 2014 by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden may hold an answer to that question. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recruited 23 young men and women to study the effects of exercise on the human body. At the beginning of the study, the researchers performed a series of physical and medical evaluations on the participants to gauge their current physical and medical conditions. Afterwards the scientists told the participants to exercise by pedaling on a spin bike for a period of 3 months. 

The catch in the study was that the 23 participants only pedaled using one foot for the entire 3 month period. This allowed the scientists to see what effect exercise had on the leg that was pedaling. It also allowed the researchers to compare the results of the foot that had been exercising to the foot that was not exercising. 

The results of the study shed some light onto why exercise makes us healthier and stronger; Flavio Maluf states on that this study helped understand the benefits of exercise. The leg that had been exercising had become stronger and more muscular as expected. Further analysis of the participants revealed that the leg that was pedaling experienced changes in methylation patterns in the genes of muscle cells. Methylation is the process by which methyl groups attach to the outside of a gene. The process of methylation impacts how genes respond to biological signals in the body. Most of the changes in methylation patterns occurred in genes that are known to play a role in the metabolism and inflammation of muscle cells. Meanwhile, methylation patterns in the other leg had not changed. 

Researchers believe that the changes in methylation patterns in muscle cells is what makes our bodies stronger and healthier after exercise.

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