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Thursday, 26 April 2018
We all know exercise is good for the body and essential in keeping us fit and healthy but what if exercise could help the heart to regenerate healthy cells, resulting in a prolonged life? Scientists have been studying this theory and have landed on some interesting results.*
Researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), and several other Harvard science institutions uncovered one of the reasons why exercise might be beneficial. They found it stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.
The report, published in Nature Communications on 25 April 2018, has implications for public health, physical education and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
According to the study, the human heart has a relatively low capacity to regenerate itself. Young adults can renew around 1% of their heart muscle cells every year, and that rate decreases with age. Considering that losing heart cells is linked to heart failure, interventions that increase new heart cell formation have potential to prevent heart failure.
To test the effects of exercise, the researchers gave one group voluntary access to a treadmill. When left to their own devices, the group ran around five kilometres each day. The other healthy group had no access to exercise and remained sedentary.
To measure heart regeneration in the group, the researchers administered a labelled chemical that was incorporated into newly made DNA as cells prepared to divide. By following the labelled DNA in the heart muscle, they could see where new cells were being produced.
The researchers found that the exercising group made over four and a half times the number of new heart muscle cells than the group without treadmill access.
The results were certainly significant - but what relevance did they have to those who suffered from a heart attack and the healing thereafter.
After experiencing a heart attack, a group with treadmill access ran five kilometres a day, voluntarily. Compared to their sedentary counterparts, the exercising group showed an increase in the area of heart tissue where new muscle cells were made.
The conclusion scientists came to was that exercise results in a massive regeneration of heart tissue therefore, is key to keeping your heart health in check and is essential when recovering from a health condition.
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* Journal Reference:
Ana Vujic, Carolin Lerchenmüller, Ting-Di Wu, Christelle Guillermier, Charles P. Rabolli, Emilia Gonzalez, Samuel E. Senyo, Xiaojun Liu, Jean-Luc Guerquin-Kern, Matthew L. Steinhauser, Richard T. Lee, Anthony Rosenzweig. Exercise induces new cardiomyocyte generation in the adult mammalian heart. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04083-1