The older we get, the more exercise starts to feel like a chore we’d rather put off.
You know you should do it. The health benefits are clear as day.
But it takes time… energy… and discipline.
And besides, that TV isn’t going to watch itself.
Now, don’t worry – this isn’t about to be a guilt trip about why you should exercise more. I’m not here to simply restate what you get all the time from your primary doc (or spouse).
Yes, the “bad” news is that you do need to resist the television’s draw and fit in some exercise each week – every day if you can.
But there is some exciting research that suggests the way we keep our bodies healthy could soon change significantly.
Believe it or not, you may be able to harness all the benefits of high-intensity training without leaving the comfort of your La-Z-Boy.
The impact could be monumental for aging populations, disabled folks or anyone who has a hard time – physically – getting enough exercise.
Check this out.
Not long ago, scientists uncovered a naturally occurring protein that accumulated in the muscles after intense physical activity. They called it Sestrin.
Until recently, the role Sestrin played in our overall health remained unknown. But researchers at the University of Michigan were determined to know more…
They devised a way to genetically engineer test subjects – Drosophila flies – to overexpress Sestrin so they could see the impact of the protein.
They created three groups:
- The control
- Flies that were unable to produce Sestrin
- Flies that produced boosted levels of Sestrin.
Then came a three-week training session where the flies were essentially forced to “work out.” Researchers created a sort of fly treadmill to get the bugs’ heart rates up. And after their exercise routine was complete, the flies were tested to see how long they could sustain flight.
The control group was a little better at it. The Sestrin-lacking flies showed no signs of improvement. But the Sestrin-boosted flies? They experienced a much greater improvement in flight time.
Those results alone were significant. But researchers weren’t done yet…
How About NO Exercise?
To take things up a notch, the scientists filled a group of flies’ muscles with as much Sestrin as they could. But for this test, there was no special training or exercise.
What happened next was shocking.
Like before, the Sestrin-laden flies were pitted against normal flies. And once again, they displayed significantly greater performance levels in flight time.
No exercise needed.
What’s more, further studies in mice showed that Sestrin doesn’t just improve endurance… It has a huge impact on aerobic capacity, improved respiration and the fat burning that’s typically associated with heavy-duty exercise.
“We propose that Sestrin can coordinate these biological activities by turning on or off different metabolic pathways,” physiologist Jun Hee Lee wrote in a press release. “This kind of combined effect is important for producing exercise’s effects.”
Lee and his team’s research eventually found its way to Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, where scientists were able to demonstrate that muscle-specific Sestrin is also very useful for preventing muscle atrophy.
If you’ve ever broken a bone and dealt with a limb in a cast for an extended period of time, you know exactly how weak a leg or arm can get after being immobilized.
But with a boost of Sestrin, one day soon, this will no longer be the case.
“This independent study again highlights that Sestrin alone is sufficient to produce many benefits of physical movement and exercise,” added Lee.
Unfortunately, you can’t head out to your local vitamin shop and pick up Sestrin or Sestrin boosters just yet. But the future looks bright.
The team at the University of Michigan is already looking into ways to find molecular modulators of Sestrin, as well as a means of delivering it to the body.
And because this has such wide-reaching potential – not to mention the ability to treat those who are unable to exercise – further tests are expected to come.
A treatment as important as this won’t stay in the laboratory for long. And that’s good news for folks who have physical difficulty exercising… and, yes, couch potatoes too.