Mitochondria Are The Energy Factories For Your Body. Here’s How To Keep Them Healthy

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Early biology lessons have taught us that the mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. What does that mean? Mitochondria (single: mitochondrion) are cell organelles, or tiny bodies inside of our cells, that are responsible for fuelling the cell with energy, and in turn, mediating cellular function across many different tissues and organs. This means that the mitochondria contribute to the entire body’s vitality in disease and health. They are high in plasticity and can adjust their shape, volume and functional capacity under various conditions like exercise, which are necessary for enhancing metabolic health.

Since mitochondria power cell functionality, the higher the number of mitochondria or their energy carrying capacity, the higher the individual’s energy level and eventually, overall vitality. And the reverse is also true. Exercise has actually shown to increase the number of mitochondria in the cell. So while exercise uses energy from the body, it also creates more of it.

So far, exercise is the unbeaten champion of using a therapeutic approach for improving mitochondrial health, not only in muscles but in our organs too.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can crucially contribute to heart disease. Changes in the metabolism of energy in the body can affect homeostatic processes such as the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), generation of ATP (the smallest form of energy in the body), and the release of factors causing natural cell death, leading to metabolic abnormalities. For such cases as well, exercise has been deemed the most effective in the regulation of Mitochondrial Quality Control, which allows for the repair and elimination of damaged mitochondria and synthesis of new ones, eventually recovering metabolic homeostasis.

Fun fact about mitochondria: Structurally they present as complete cells in themselves, even though they are just a part of a cell. They contain their own DNA within and can function without external help as well. From an evolutionary standpoint, it is believed that mitochondria may have been single-celled organisms in the past, such as bacteria, which were engulfed by the cells of larger organisms and were eventually passed down to future generations, making them a permanent part of the cell.

Mitochondrial health and exercise
Mitochondrial health drives one’s complete wellbeing. So, a lagging state of mitochondrial health can lead to bodily functions falling apart. In healthy individuals, exercise can induce many physiological changes to augment the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems’ activity, delivering oxygen to all the tissues of the body, including the heart itself. Physical performance often depends on the composition of skeletal muscles as they are made up of different fibre types responsible for muscle plasticity in reaction to external functional demands. Physical activity has a lot of beneficial effects on pathology, and conditions like adult and childhood obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. And that is why exercise is being considered one of the primary, non-pharmacological methods to prevent and treat various conditions.

All-in-all, mitochondrial health is essential in keeping the body’s functioning at an optimum level and must be maintained lifelong, especially through regular exercise and physical activity.

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