Incorporating exercise into our daily routine is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, recent research conducted at the University of Manchester suggests that there is an even simpler way to enhance the benefits of exercise: committing to the same time each day for physical activity. This study, conducted on mice, reveals the advantages of establishing a regular exercise rhythm and its impact on our overall well-being.
The human body possesses multiple body clocks, including the central body clock located in the brain or suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), as well as localized body clocks in various parts of the body. Exercising regularly can reset these local body clocks found in joints and the spine, according to the University of Manchester’s research. In particular, exercising at the same time each day allows these local clocks to stay synchronized with the central clock in the SCN.
Previous studies have shown that when the clocks in peripheral tissues become out of sync, it can lead to an increased risk of various health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, synchronizing these clocks through regular exercise can play a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being and reducing the risk of these conditions. By conveying timing information from the central clock in the brain, physical activity in the morning, aligned with our sleep/wake cycle, signals the skeletal system to “wake up,” as explained by Qing-Jun Meng, a chronobiologist at the University of Manchester.
To conduct the study, researchers utilized a genetic reporting technique to monitor the clocks in the joints, intervertebral discs (spine), and brains of transgenic mice. The mice were then made to exercise on treadmills at different times, and samples of their cartilage tissue were examined for their osmotic responses. The joints and spine, known to play a significant role in exercise, release water throughout the day, causing a slight reduction in height. This process partially resets the localized body clocks on a daily basis. However, the study found that exercise further contributes to this osmolarity process and helps reset these clocks more effectively, ultimately improving the synchronization between the body’s clocks.
Although these findings were observed in mice, it is likely that similar effects will be seen in humans. The health of our bones and joints is crucial for athletic performance and minimizing the risk of injuries or conditions such as arthritis. Athletes who frequently travel between different time zones, for example, may experience an increased risk of injury due to disrupted clock synchronization. Moreover, the study also revealed that older animals exhibited the same clock syncing, suggesting that even in later life, engaging in regular physical activity at a consistent time can be beneficial.
Incorporating exercise into our daily routine is already considered essential for maintaining good health. However, adopting a regular exercise rhythm, whereby physical activity is performed at the same time each day, offers additional benefits. By resetting the localized body clocks in joints and the spine, exercise improves the synchronization between these clocks and the central clock in the brain. Although further research is needed to confirm these findings in humans, implementing a consistent exercise schedule can positively impact our overall well-being and contribute to healthy bones and joints throughout our lives.