Muscles reward exercise

I found this very interesting interview with Professor Dr. Med Bente Klarlund Pedersen in one of the Danish newspapers, Politiken (the Danish Article).

Professor (Dr. Med.) Bente Klarlund Pedersen is the director of Copenhagen Muscle Research Center and her focus is on inflammation and metabolism(CIM)

Her results are very interesting to us looking to improve health and balance our lives. For example, her early research has shown that there is a connection between physical activity and the immune system.

She shows that our muscles are not alone making us capable of moving around, but work similarly to other organs producing hormone-like compounds – important for our overall health. She has shown that muscles work like vital organs setting “turbo-on” conversion of sugar and fat during exercise.

Another really interesting point that Dr. Klarlund has found is that in people who are not physically active, not only do their muscles deteriorate, but lack of exercise also makes them more prone to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and depression. She is focusing her research to find out how inactivity can be connected to so many different lifestyle diseases.

Her basis research shows that muscles not only get messages from the nerves, but also communicate through many hormone-like compounds. Thus, muscles work like organs. Some of their research experiments with people paralyzed from the neck and down showed that by stimulating their muscles, they could achieve the same positive effects as if they had been exercising! Their bodies burned sugar and fat and they could even experience “Runner’s high” even though they were paralyzed and not physical active in any way.

In another experiment, they asked a group of people to limit their activities to walk a maximum of 1.500 steps a day – where 10.000 steps would be the norm. The results showed that lots of things happened – for example, they lost 1.2 kg muscle mass. They became insulin resistant which is the stage before diabetes. When they consumed fat, the fat remained longer in the body and built up around the inner organs – in just 2 weeks!!!

Her own 2 sons were part of the study and she explains how they, during the research, became irritable and short-fused. This gave her the idea to the next study she did. She teamed up with Neorospychologists to research how peoples’ focus and ability to concentrate changed when they didn’t get exercise. They are still collecting data but preliminary results show, as they expected, that it is more difficult to concentrate and focus when we do not exercise.

Professor Dr. Bente Klarlund Pedersen recommends a minimum of 1/2 hr of exercise every day. Some of her new research also points out that exercising helps to keep muscles stay younger for longer.

I find her research interesting on so many levels –  when it comes to preventing disease, how exercise affects our levels of concentration and our performance. I  find it fascinating to read about research on how exercise affects our emotional health and well-being.

Dr. Pedersen is currently researching marathon runners – she says she is fascinated by the extremes – to find the difference in the people who exercise a lot – and the people who do little or no exercise.

It is exciting to see what comes of her research.

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