||[26 June 2013] Regular exercise has health benefits. It can strengthen the body’s ‘clock’ and help it stay synchronised as it grows older.
Every form of life has a ‘body clock’ that allows synchronisation of bodily functions, such as sleeping and eating, to the 24-hour light-dark cycle of the day. As organisms age, body clock circadian rhythms often become less synchronised resulting in poor sleep patterns, weakened immune function and alterations in mood.
Professor Stephany Biello led research on circadian rhythms which ‘reset’ the internal body clock of mice, advancing their light/dark cycle by 8 hours. Observing how long it took for the mice’s body clocks to synchronise again, they found that young mice were able to quickly adapt to the new schedule whereas older mice struggled more.
However, when older mice were given access to a running wheel, they showed stronger activity in the central brain clock and synchronised more quickly compared to older mice without a wheel.
This demonstrates that voluntary exercise has an impact on circadian rhythms and this has implications for the health of older people living with environmentally-induced circadian disruption.
The paper can be found here).