How does regular exercise contribute to muscle health? Research suggests that regular exercise through the course of the lifespan supports muscle function and health through preserving muscle stem cells.
Muscle stem cells (MuSC’s) are found in the skeletal muscle tissue. Since MuSC’s can self-renew and turn into muscle cells during injury or after tissue damage, they are important in slowing muscular aging. Numbers of MuSC's typically decline with age.
A recent study investigating the impact of a lifetime of physical activity on muscle preservation in male participants (~73 years old), found that a lifetime of recreational exercise preserves stem cells in aging muscles. Although the sample size was small and male-only, this study is groundbreaking for our understanding of how muscles are preserved by exercise as we age.
Previous to this human study, research on animals suggested similar findings. Research out of Stanford, published in 2020, found that regular exercise restored muscle stem cells in older mice.
The Hearty Take
At Hearty, we encourage you to support your muscles with regular exercise! Researchers suggest that even minimal amounts of regular exercise result in improved muscular function later on in life. This is likely due to exercise-induced MuSC preservation, leading to enhance muscular tissue function and repair. Having trouble with exercise behavior change? Reach out to your health coach.