A recent study indicates that poor diet and lack of exercise may speed up the aging process, and that exercise can combat those ill effects.
On a cellular level, aging occurs when cells do a poor job of replicating themselves and begin to harm surrounding cells. Unhealthy lifestyle habits can accelerate this process. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have now found that increased exercise could counteract it. Thomas A. White presented their findings in a poster session on Monday, April 28, at the Experimental Biology meeting. The researchers compared mice fed a fast food diet (FFD) for 5 months with those fed a standard diet (control). The FFD mice developed insulin sensitivity and impaired glucose tolerance – pre-cursors of diabetes – as well as impaired exercise ability, and heart dysfunction. But when the FFD mice were given a running wheel, the exercise began to counteract the effects of a poor diet. The mice showed improvement in body weight, metabolism, and cardiac function, as well as a significant decrease in signs of cell senescence and associated inflammation.
“Our data clearly show that poor nutritional choices dramatically accelerate the accumulation of senescent cells, and for the first time, that exercise can prevent or delay this fundamental process of aging. Despite the need to better understand the role of cellular senescence in aging and disease, our data underscore the profound impact of lifestyle choices on health and successful aging,” the authors say.