Exercise may help cells clean house by switching on their intracellular recycling system

Physical exercise is well known to support a healthy body, but researchers are still teasing out just exactly how exercise supports good health.

This mouse study identifies one very specific effect that appears to form part of the link. Cells have built-in mechanisms for breaking down and reusing proteins and other components that are no longer in tip-top functioning order. Stressors are known to increase the activity of those built-in clean-up systems.

In this study mice with known genetic mutations that prevent that increase of clean-up activity and mice with normally functioning systems were fed a high-fat diet and required to complete a high level of exercise.

Compared to mice with normal metabolisms, mice with the genetic mutations had less endurance, altered blood sugar levels, and — when fed a high-fat diet — gained excessive weight whether or not they exercised (normal mice were less likely to gain excess weight when they exercised as compared to when they didn’t).

These results suggest that this particular biochemical pathway that ramps up cellular clean-up mechanisms is at least part of the link between exercise and good health.