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Cell Health & Exercise

March 14, 2017

Bursts of high intensity aerobics revive aging cells.



Exercising our cells. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, where fuel from food is converted to energy. As we age, mitochondrial function decreases dramatically. Mayo Clinic researcher Sreekumaran Nair wondered whether interval training could help. His regimen involves four-minute bursts of high-intensity aerobic exercise sandwiched between a couple of minutes of more moderate activity, and repeated four times. In the journal Cell Metabolism, he and his colleagues report on its effect on mitochondrial decline.

SREEKUMARAN NAIR (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN):

And what the study shows is that that can be almost completely reversed if you engage in this exercise program.


Weight-lifting produced a less dramatic improvement, but was more effective at building muscle mass. Nair recommends both types of exercise, and says even modest amounts performed regularly can lead to significant health gains. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon