Activating Myokines Through Resistance Training: One of the Keys to Unlocking Eternal Youth.

It is well documented that exercise improves physical health. Physical activity increases demand on skeletal muscle which increases oxygen need, resulting in many highly beneficial compensatory mechanisms: increased vasodilation, increased cardiorespiratory function, increased blood perfusion to the brain, increased lipolysis, and metabolic rate. Physical movement, especially when it involves light to moderate resistance (load bearing exercise or swimming), affects every organ system and balances the body in extremely profound ways.

Blood vessel integrity and function is one of the mechanisms by which resistance training benefits health, and it does so very rapidly. In a recent study, it was shown that in patients with type two diabetes (T2D) blood vessel function was significantly improved in a single session of resistance training(1). Other chronic diseases, such as congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease are also confirmed to be benefited greatly by resistance training(2).

Another very interesting factor influencing the effects to physical exertion on physical health is the somewhat recent discovery that skeletal muscle is an endocrine organ(3). Skeletal muscle secretes a number of various hormones which affect distant organs. The most well known of these “myokines,” is Interleukin-6 (IL-6), which increases glucose production by the liver for increased energy demand during exercise. Other myokines have recently been found to influence the thermoregulatory nature of adipose (browning of adipose), as well as increasing mitochondrial biogenesis(4).

It should come as no surprise that one of the most important factors to health, physical movement, increases endocrine function in a way which impacts the entire body. These studies hopefully will make it easier to stand in confidence that the types of changes we expect to see when initiating physical movement routines are more immediate than previously thought.

References:
1. Monique Emily Francois, et al. Resistance-Based Interval Exercise Acutely Improves Endothelial Function In Type 2 Diabetes. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2016.
Int J Cardiol. 2017 Jan 15;227:413-423. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.11.023. Epub 2016 Nov 7.
2. Shaw, B.S.; Shaw, I. (2005). Effect of resistance training on cardiorespiratory endurance and coronary artery disease risk. Cardiovascular Journal of South Africa (pdf). 16 (5): 256–9. PMID 16307157
3. Pedersen BK. Muscle as a secretory organ.Compr Physiol. 2013 Jul;3(3):1337-62. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c120033.
4.Whitham M, Febbraio MA. The ever-expanding myokinome: discovery challenges and therapeutic implications.Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016 Oct;15(10):719-29. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2016.153. Epub 2016 Sep 12.


Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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