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Surprising Science

Is Exercise the Key to Immortality?

Exercise is practically essential to good health but scientists have not understood why until recently. Physical exertion, it seems, helps recycle worn-out proteins that poison the body.

What’s the Latest Development?

For the first time, scientists are beginning to understand how exercise works on the body and mind to make us healthier. It seems that physical exertion helps promote autophagy, derived from the Greek for ‘self-eating’, which is the body’s process of recycling worn-out or malformed proteins. In research conducted in Texas, mice which ran on treadmills produced more autophagosomes in their muscles and mice who could not produce autophagosomes became more easily fatigued and processed less sugar from the bloodstream. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Exercise is about as close as it comes to a panacea, protecting the body and mind against a host of ailments. And if autophagy is the process by which exercise benefits us, then we may have found the first step to prolonging life in dramatic fashion. Autophagy’s process of recycling proteins helps slow the aging process by getting rid of “wonky” mitochondria, the power stations of the cell, and would reduce free-radical production resulting from the oxidation of molecules in our bodies.

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