We know that exercise is good for you. Not only for your short-term health, but also to stave off disease and aging. We’ve covered before how exercise is the single best thing you can do when it comes to healthy living (but not the only thing, of course). What we don’t know is exactly how that happens.
Thanks to new research in active mice, we may be closer to understanding why.
It has to do with “autophagy”, a mechanism by which cells recycle worn out proteins and organelles. Perhaps by cleaning up the junk, they prevent toxic compounds and free radicals from building up? Cells that are exercised more are cells that recycle more. From The Economist:
Autophagy is an ancient mechanism, shared by all eukaryotic organisms (those which, unlike bacteria, keep their DNA in a membrane-bound nucleus within their cells). It probably arose as an adaptation to scarcity of nutrients. Critters that can recycle parts of themselves for fuel are better able to cope with lean times than those that cannot. But over the past couple of decades, autophagy has also been shown to be involved in things as diverse as fighting bacterial infections and slowing the onset of neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases.