Does exercise protect the body against oxidative stress?

A study was conducted at Northern Arizona University to see if one exercise session can help to strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses against free radicals brought on by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is any damage made to the cells of the body. This damage is caused by Free Radicals which are a buildup of toxins within the body that promote aging, disease, illness and inflammation. Just like our lungs need air to breathe and to live, the cells of our body also need oxygen to survive and thrive. When we take on poor lifestyle habits, the cells of the body become damaged by free radical toxins and lose oxygen. As a result of oxidative stress, our cells no longer function as they should and our health suffers.

Related Article: What is oxidative stress and free radicals?

The results of this study revealed that the younger group of participants was less affected by oxidative stress than the older group after the exercise session. The lead author of this study, Tinna Traustadóttir said the reason why the older group of participants did not benefit from the exercise session “may be related to impaired cell signaling, a process that could potentially be improved with regular workouts.”

After reading: Effect of Exercise On The Immune System : Response, Adaptation and Cell Signaling, some interesting considerations are mentioned in regard to specific parameters when examining exercise and cell signaling. The study mentions how white blood cells or leukocytes which are the cells of the immune system that fight infection are transformed during exercise based on the “intensity and duration of the activity performed.”

The study explains how a HIGH intensity exercise session may not trigger a cell signal to defend against free radicals and oxidative stress. Although, exercise offers countless benefits to the body and mind, a HIGH intensity workout is a form of stress on the body. Although, the word “stress” is most commonly used to describe a state of mind, physical stress refers to when the body is overworked physically either by lack of sleep, lack of nutrition or by a high intensity workout which one is not adapted to perform.

Effect of Exercise On The Immune System : Response, Adaptation and Cell Signaling, explains how a workout of MODERATE intensity more effectively signals cells to protect against infections. It is apparent that one cannot fight stress or infection of the body with more stress (a HIGH intense workout); Mother Nature of our physiology always knows best.

Remember, the goal of the Northern Arizona University study was to see if ONE exercise session can strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses against free radicals brought on by oxidative stress. The results of that study showed how the younger group benefited from the one exercise session and as a result were better protected against oxidative stress compared to the older group.

Although, the workout activity was the same for both groups, I believe that the younger group was able to handle the workout better than the older group simply because of their younger age. Based on these sources, it is probable that the older group may have struggled with the exercise session more than the younger group which supports the premise of a HIGH intensity exercise session not being able to trigger a cell signal to defend against free radicals and oxidative stress.

As Traustadóttir stated: impaired cell signaling is a process that could potentially improve with regular workouts. Perhaps, if the older group integrated regular workouts into their lifestyle, then over time it will to allow them to better adapt to exercising which will convert their once difficult/HIGH intense workouts to easier/MODERATE intensity workouts. This will allow them to experience the benefit of cell signaling to help protect them from oxidative stress.

Note
With Traustadóttir’s continuing exploratory research of age-linked cell processes and cell signaling, FITergize.com will be sure to follow-up on her future research regarding the benefits of exercise to defend the body against free radicals and oxidative stress.


ABOUT THE STUDY

Who were the Participants?
2 separate groups of participants:
-One group of healthy participants between the age of 18 and 25
-One group of healthy participants aged 50 and up

What was the Purpose of the Study?
To see if one exercise session can strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses against free radicals brought on by oxidative stress.

What were the Procedures?
-Both groups of participants rode a stationary bike for 45 minutes.
-They returned the following day for further testing.
-Their blood pressure was measured with an inflated blood pressure cuff for 10 minutes.
-After their blood pressure was taken they were given a two-minute break.
-Their blood pressure and resting period was repeated three times.
-Blood samples were taken and measured, both before and after the exercise session to measure antioxidant-related enzymes and the oxidative stress response of their body.

What was Measured?
-Blood Pressure
-Blood samples
-Antioxidant-related enzymes

What were the Findings?
-The younger group of participants was less affected by oxidative stress than the older group after the exercise session.
-The lead author of this study, Tinna Traustadóttir said the reason why the younger group showed a greater benefit than the older group of participants “may be related to impaired cell signaling, a process that could potentially be improved with regular workouts”

Note
With Traustadóttir’s continuing exploration of age-linked cell processes and cell signaling, FITergize.com will be sure to follow-up on her future research regarding the benefits of exercise to defend the body against oxidative stress.

References
Trevor C. Nordin, Aaron J. Done, Tinna Traustadóttir. Acute exercise increases resistance to oxidative stress in young but not older adults. AGE, 2014; 36 (6) DOI: 10.1007/s11357-014-9727-z

Northern Arizona University. “Research shows protective effects of exercise.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216211811.htm>.

TERRA, Rodrigo; SILVA, Sílvia Amaral Gonçalves da; PINTO, Verônica Salerno  and  DUTRA, Patrícia Maria Lourenço.” Effect of Exercise On The Immune System : Response, Adaptation and Cell Signaling.” Rev Bras Med Esporte [online]. 2012, vol.18, n.3, pp. 208-214. ISSN 1517-8692.  <http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1517-86922012000300015>.

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