Exercise Helps In The Long Run

Exercise done in early life has long-lasting benefits. Latest research shows that bone retains a ‘memory’ of exercise’s effects long after the exercise is ceased, and this bone memory continues to change the way the body metabolises a high-fat diet. The study, published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Physiology’, says that high-fat diets early in life are known to turn up, or increase the activity of other genes that cause inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural self-protective response to acute infection or injury. However, the ongoing, low-grade inflammation linked to high-fat diets can harm cells and tissues and raise the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. The researchers, from the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, have found that when you exercise, the bone marrow carries a ‘memory’ of the effects of exercise. Says Dr Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist at the Institute, “This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty,” adding, “This may help scientists understand why, even though obesity and diabetes are often linked, some people with obesity do not develop diabetes. It also strongly emphasises the health benefits of exercise for children.”

According to Professor Mark Vickers, an obesity specialist, with rising obesity in children the world over, it is important to understand the effects of these conditions on bone health. Obesity is governed by many genes and the study would help out to know more about the gene-environment interaction with health and disease.

Says Professor Elwyn Firth, who studies bone development, “Childhood and adolescence are periods of rapid bone growth. If you reach optimal bone mass early in life, you’re less likely to suffer from broken bones or other bone-related problems as an adult. Load-bearing from exercise and higher bodyweight is good for growing bones, but this and other evidence shows that if the extra weight comes from higher body fat mass, bone development may be subnormal. Bone metabolism strongly influences energy metabolism in the body, and metabolism — what you do with energy from diet — is the central crux of why some children and adults become obese.”

The researchers now hope to repeat the experiment to see if the changes persist into old age, and if varying the exercise could alter other genes, affecting other aspects of fat metabolism beneficially.

Comments are closed.