Regular aerobic exercise can reverse degenerative processes that lead to diabetes, high cholesterol
Moderate aerobic exercises include brisk walking, gardening and dancing, while vigorous aerobic exercises include running, swimming, tennis, cycling, jumping rope, hiking uphill and high-intensity interval training
Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio exercises, are some of the most beneficial physical activities out there. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), aerobic activities increase your heart rate and improve cardiorespiratory fitness, especially when done at moderate and vigorous intensities.
Moderate aerobic exercises include brisk walking, gardening and dancing, while vigorous aerobic exercises include running, swimming, tennis, cycling, jumping rope, hiking uphill and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
The AHA recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise for five to seven days of the week for proper cardiovascular conditioning and good health. Not getting enough of this type of exercise can lead to various health problems.
For example, having low aerobic fitness has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety by a study published in November 2020. So, it’s evident that the benefits of doing regular aerobic exercises not only encompass physical health but mental health too.
Aerobic exercises and DICER expression
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that there are a few other benefits associated with regular aerobic exercise too. This study suggests that aerobic exercise can regulate the expression of a key enzyme which is essential for adipose tissues (fat tissues) to reduce degenerative processes like ageing and obesity.
A reduction in these degenerative processes, the study says, can ultimately contribute to the prevention of metabolic disorders like diabetes and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol and triglycerides), which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
DICER or endoribonuclease Dicer is an enzyme that belongs to the ribonuclease III (RNase III) family. The DICER enzyme plays a huge role in the biogenesis of microRNAs or mRNAs that are involved in the regulation of gene expression and other metabolic functions.
Previous research suggests that degenerative processes like weight gain and ageing can impair the production of these mRNAs in the body, which then paves the way for metabolic diseases to occur.
The researchers behind the PNAS study hypothesized that up-regulating the DICER enzymes in the adipose tissues of mice and humans via aerobic exercise can remove this hindrance in mRNA expression and postpone or prevent the incidence of metabolic disorders.
DICER expression in mice and humans
To prove this, the researchers used a mouse model for preliminary trials. They exposed mice to 60-minute long treadmill running protocols for a period of eight weeks, during which time the inclination and speed of the treadmill were increased as the mice became fitter.
At the end of the trial period, the researchers found that not only had the fitness levels of the mice improved but also that the DICER expression by their adipose tissue had increased significantly. This increase in DICER expression was also associated with a notable reduction in body weight and visceral fat deposits (the type of fat stored in the abdominal region).
During the human trials, the researchers exposed volunteers from two age groups, a younger group with an average age of 36 years and an older age group with an average age of 63 years, to six weeks of HIIT.
At the end of this trial, the researchers found that the amount of DICER expression in human adipose tissue had increased fivefold on average. Although the response of these participants varied greatly when taken individually, in some cases the expression of DICER was even found to be 25 times higher: which the researchers found to be a promising finding indeed.
Through further investigation, the researchers found that as the DICER expression increased the mRNA expression, a molecule called miR-203-3p was released into the bloodstream. This molecule further improved metabolic adjustment and flexibility, which effectively slowed down and reversed ageing and obesity.
The researchers thus concluded that regular aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity builds a better adaptive response between muscles and tissues and promotes whole-body metabolic responses by regulating DICER expression that can not only counter degenerative processes but also keep metabolic diseases at bay.
For more information, read our article on Aerobic exercise.
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