The benefits of exercise are widely known, but McMaster University kinesiologists have discovered for the first time that physical activity can help fight depression in the elderly by stimulating the mood calls generated by the muscles.
The results, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, reveal that the underlying mechanisms that make us feel good when we exercise persist in old age and emphasize the importance of remaining active.
"A previous study demonstrated these mechanisms in healthy young adults, however, it was not known whether the aging muscle deterioration precludes older adults from achieving similar exercise-induced benefits," explains David Allison, principal author of the study and postdoctoral fellow in McMaster's Department of Kinesiology.
"This could have important implications for the use of exercise as a treatment or as a preventive strategy for depression in the elderly," he says.
Little is known about the relationship between skeletal muscle and mental health, or how exercise affects this relationship.
Previous research has shown that physical activity can help "ignite" the genes within skeletal muscle which can then influence the major metabolic pathways that ultimately promote mood-enhancing chemicals, such as serotonin, in the brain.
Muscle loss is a common problem in the elderly that can limit this path and therefore increase the risk of depression, says Allison.
For the study, a group of healthy men, aged 65 and over, followed a 12-week high intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol on an exercise bike once a week combined with strength training sessions. bi-weekly.
The researchers analyzed blood samples and muscle changes and determined that three months of exercise were sufficient to improve the gene expression within the skeletal muscle.
"Even people who are already metabolically healthy – with good weight, good blood pressure and blood sugar levels – must prioritize regular physical activity to maintain or improve their mental health," says Allison . "We have shown that these benefits are still achievable in old age and further emphasize the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle".
In the future, researchers hope to explore the relationship between mental health and exercise between clinically depressed to see if similar biochemical changes can be achieved.
For more details click on the link: DOI: 10.1152 / ajpcell.00448.2018