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Exercise for healthy aging



UND Life Sciences, 13800 Fairhill Road, #321, Shaker Heights, OH 44120, USA


Exercise is useful in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, dementia and depression and helps in healthy aging. Regular exercise is also known to be of significant benefit in the prevention of colon and postmenopausal breast cancer. Exercise helps to preserve muscle mass, prevents osteoporosis and age-associated dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and thus, helps in healthy aging. The mechanism(s) responsible for the beneficial actions of exercise include: (a) a 100-fold increase in plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels that triggers anti-oxidant defenses in the body, (b) increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), (c) increase in niacinamide that regulates insulin sensitivity, and promote glycemic control, (d) enhanced utilization of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and augmented formation of lipoxins, resolvins, protectins and nitrolipids, potent anti-inflammatory molecules, and (e) increase in the formation of endothelial nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator and platelet anti-aggregator, that enhances the formation of mitochondria. Exercise is anti-inflammatory in nature and regular exercise has favourable effects on immune system that accounts for its ability to prevent adult diseases.


People who are physically inactive have a life span that is 5 years shorter than that of physically active people. Moreover, the expected lifetime without long-standing illness is reduced by approximately 8 years in physically inactive people (1). Physical inactivity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer; postmenopausal breast cancer, dementia and depression (2-7) (Figure 1).
Low-grade systemic inflammation is associated with physical inactivity independent of obesity (8) that, in turn, promotes development of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth. It is known that contracting human skeletal muscle releases significant amounts of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, chemokines, IL-8, macrophage inflammatory protein 1a (MIP-1a) and MIP-1b and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α (9) (Figure 2). Of all, appearance of IL-6 in the circulation is by far the most marked and precedes that of the other cytokines (9). Macrophages also produce IL-6. But the actions exerted by IL-6 are different depending on its source and ...

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