Impact of Physical Exercise on Mitochondria

Fitness / Health

It has been established that mitochondrial content can be increased and enhanced through physical exercise. Early observation by comparing mitochondrial content in groups of muscle in animals during which it emerged that the mitochondrial content of breast muscle of chickens that rarely fly is less in comparison to that of pigeons that fly for long periods.  Muscles that are continuously working such as the heart tend to have more mitochondrial content and activity than muscles whose actions are sporadic like the back muscles. Involving muscles in regular and sustained activity increases their mitochondrial activity and content.

3D mitochondria illustration

Although mitochondria exist in most cells, the amount found in skeletal muscles is of great importance. The amount of mitochondria in the human body tends to decrease with age. The number of intracellular organelles can be increased in the body of older adults through exercise. Regular exercise can play a significant role in increasing mitochondrial content. Exercise is considered to be a realistic and practical way of increasing energy and endurance in both young and old individuals. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are considered important in mitochondrial biogenesis. The focus of the aerobic exercise is endurance while anaerobic is strength. These two types of exercises are vital in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle by stimulating and increasing mitochondria. Research findings indicate that aerobic exercise contributes to a greater concentration of mitochondria.

Resistance exercise does not necessarily lead to a significant increase in mitochondria but is associated with increased muscle.  Research findings have shown that resistance exercise can increase both muscle and mitochondria in untrained muscle. On the contrary, the muscles that are trained regularly, mitochondria tend to be contestant while the growth of muscles tends to increase. Mitochondria increases at a slower rate with endurance exercise after the initial spike.  Resistance exercise is capable of stimulating an increased concentration of mitochondrial to a certain degree. Although aerobic and anaerobic exercise contributes to the formation of muscle and mitochondria, aerobic exercise contributes to a continuous increase in the amount of intracellular organelle present in the cell. Endurance exercise has proven to be effective in the continuous stimulation of mitochondrial growth.

Endurance exercise is considered to be a powerful tool for improving both the health and performance of individuals. Physical activity is widely recognized as effective in treating and preventing a wide range of ailments. Increasing the function and content of mitochondria is considered the most effective outcome associated with endurance training within exercising muscles. The quality and quantity of mitochondria have been associated with several positive health benefits that occur after training. A strong positive correlation has been realized between high mitochondrial content and endurance performance. Oxidative capacity of muscles and endurance performance can strongly be correlated to high mitochondrial content.

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