Sept. 24, 2013
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have identified an important new benefit of exercise: It increases the ability of skeletal muscle cells to remove damaged components and other cellular debris from the body.
A cellular cleaning process, known as autophagy, appears vital for the muscle to adapt to exercise – and for the body to receive the health benefits of exercising.
“If I can use an analogy to describe this [cellular clean-up process], it’s like a janitor. A team of janitors comes to clean up the working environment every day, to maintain the homeostasis of the cell,” explained UVa’s Zhen Yan, PhD. “Exercise training seems to increase the number of janitors and make the process more efficient. So we have a more active cleaning process of the cell.”
They believe this discovery will help doctors in the battle against the effects of aging and diseases such as diabetes – and could help explain why some people see little benefit from exercise.