Inner wonder and physical exercise
by Juan Hernandez, PhD
Aikido Instructor, Manual Therapist, and Personal Trainer
Studies have shown that even only a half hour of exercise at a moderate intensity per day, improves mood and concentration. The biology related to the effect of exercise on concentration is that exercise promotes the increase of one's levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, being all neurotransmitters that improve attention.
Additionally to restructuring the skeletomuscular system to better deal with the mechanical stress, physical exercise also affects the expression of the genes regarding to metabolism. The effects are outspreaded and can affect from aerobic stamina to muscle growth to diabetes and also other metabolic disorders.
Physical exercise affects epigenetic mechanisms that have also been observed as being involved in processes related to age. A significant component of the aging process is the important loss of DNA methylation that occurs over time.
The term epigenetics refers to the study of cellular variations which result from environmental or external factors what switch genes and have an effect on how cells express genes.
The term methylation refers to a natural biochemical process involved in the functions of the body that implies the addition of three hydrogen atoms and a single carbon, named a methyl group, to another molecule.
Cell differentiation implies methylation of different zones in the DNA of a cell, what can modify the transcription of genes. DNA methylation is relevant for establishing the function and identity of a cell during cell differentiation because of the role that plays in the control of gene expression. Recently a study observing genome DNA methylation of humans aging one hundred years or older and newborn infants found that the older individuals had importantly reduced overall DNA methylation. As we age, the quantity of DNA methylation starts to decrease slowly. Posterior studies have been looking at the effects that physical exercise has on DNA methylation and the process of aging in humans, finding that genome wide DNA methylation in adult individuals who have thirty or more minutes of exercise a day have remarkably more DNA methylation in comparison to sedentary individuals. Therefore, physical exercise can affect favorably the process of aging by slowing down over time the rate of the loss of DNA methylation.
Another important component of the process of aging is the gradual reduction of telomeres placed at the end of the chromosomes. Telomeres are repetitive sequences placed at the end of the chromosomes which have the purpose of slowing down the process of reduction and cell damage which take place after every cell division and also stabilize the ends of DNA.
Aging and diseases related to age are associated with the important reduction of these sequences. The contraction of telomeres take place in the somatic cells where telomerase, which is the enzyme that controls the lengthening of telomeres, is not expressed. Through helping to increase the stability of the telomeres, physical exercise can have favorable effects on the process of aging by helping to decrease the reduction of telomeres.