New Research: Muscles = Longevity!
Researchers discover that the fountain of youth may relate to your muscles!
FROM THE prestigious Buck Institute for Age Research to calorie restricted diets to resveratrol-injected mice, medical researchers are grappling with the question of what, if anything, can extend the life span of organisms… particularly us.
Now, researchers at Liverpool and the University of California have discovered yet another clue to the mystery of aging – Heat Shock Protein, or “HSP10”, a “stress” protein that could halt the aging process by preserving muscle strength.
Yes, muscle strength.
(Hear that, Mom? Been telling you since I was a thin 15-year old pumping the weights in the basement!)
The body is made up of cells and each cell has within it, in effect, a power plant called “mitochondria” which generate most of the cells supply of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a chemical energy that cells principally use for metabolism. Mitochondria are involved in a range of other processes, such as signaling, cell growth and…. cell death!
Cells die, you die.
So, here’s the insight that this research uncovered:
HSP10 helps to monitor and organize protein interactions in the mitochondria, and responds to environmental stresses, such as exercise and infection, by increasing its own production which can then halt the aging process by preserving muscle strength.
Professor Anne McArdle, from the University’s School of Clinical Sciences, said: “In response to [various] stresses, HSP10 increases its levels and helps cells resist damage and recover more effectively. Our research is the first to demonstrate that age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass is not inevitable and this could have considerable implications for the future health care of the elderly. Between the ages of 50 and 70 we lose approximately 25-30% of our muscle. Falls – a major cause of injury and death in people over the age of 65 – are often the direct result of loss of mobility and weakened skeletal muscle.” (More here.)
Further research into HSP10 will focus on how muscles age in order to determine if this protein could be used therapeutically. Clinical trials will need to be conducted to establish what benefits HSP10 can confer to the quality of life, such as preservation of muscle strength.
But the good news is that you need not wait for some magic pill, should one evolve from this research, to benefit from this discovery. Instead, you only need to develop a regime of resistance-based exercise to stimulate the production of muscle, particularly skeletal muscle.
No matter how old you are, you can still develop muscle. Try a vigorous, widely taught form of yoga, such as Ashtanga Yoga, walking hills mixed with some calisthenics for the upper body, or weight lifting (under the supervision of a trainer if you’re new to this).
For a long and strong life, keep those muscles pumping!