Study reveals that exercise can make heart younger, according to a study conducted on April 25, 2018.
This study was conducted in mice by researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS). They found that exercise stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.
The capacity of human heart to regenerate itself is relatively low. Around 1% of heart muscle cells can be renewed by young adults 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.
The effects of exercise was tested by giving access to treadmill to one group of healthy mice. When left to their own devices, the mice ran around five kilometers each day. To measure heart regeneration in the mice, 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.
It was found that the exercising mice made over four and a half times the number of new heart muscle cells than the mice without treadmill access. Furthermore, they conducted a test in the disease setting of a heart attack and again found positive results. Anthony Rosenzweig said, “Maintaining a healthy heart requires balancing the loss of heart muscle cells due to injury or aging with the regeneration or birth of new heart muscle cells. Our study suggests exercise can help tip the balance in favor of regeneration.”