EXERCISE helps the “body clock” keep time, a Scottish study says.
Researchers found regular exercise can strengthen our body clock and help it stay synchronised as it grows older.
Every form of life has a body clock that allows synchronisation of various functions, such as sleeping and eating, to the 24-hour light-dark cycle of the day.
In mammals the clock is located deep in the brain and is directly connected to the optic nerve. It regulates the circadian rhythms by expressing different proteins and hormones.
As organisms age, the rhythms of the body clock often become less synchronised, resulting in poor sleep patterns, weakened immune function and general cognitive decline.
University of Glasgow researchers were able to see how important circadian rhythms – physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle – are by “resetting” the internal body clock of mice through advancing their light and dark cycle by eight hours. They observed how long it took for body clocks to synchronise again. Young mice quickly adapted to the new schedule as older mice struggled more.
Professor Stephany Biello, of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, said: “Ageing can impact the daily rhythms leading to impaired sleep and activity cycles. Synchronisation is key to a healthy immune function, metabolism and mood. Evidence suggests animals more strongly synchronised live healthier and longer lives.
“Our study demonstrates voluntary exercise has an impact on the health of older people living with environmentally induced circadian disruption.”