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Exercise Nudges Stem Cells To Turn Into Bone Cells

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

Here is one more reason why you should put on that workout gear and exercise. To the already long list of benefits that can be availed from following a regular workout routine, a new study conducted by the researchers at McMaster University, Canada now adds another benefit. And this benefit may be had even if you exercise only moderately every other day of the week.

It seems that the body’s influential stem cells are urged, during an exercise session, to develop into a bone cell rather than a fat cell. (1)

In other words, the benefit also doubles up as the reason why people who work out have better bone density and are fitter instead of flabby or with low bone mass.

The study found that the body’s mesenchymal stem cells in particular had the maximum possibility to convert to bone rather than fat cells, depending on the path they follow.

Mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent in nature and have the ability to differentiate into many cell types such as bone cells, cartilage cells or fat cells. (2)

The study which was conducted by the Department of Kinesiology of McMaster University and headed by associate professor Gianni Parise, PhD studied mice which had been on a treadmill routine. They found that the treadmill running type of aerobic exercises triggered their stem cells to convert to bone cells or osteoblasts rather than fat cells.

This was especially surprising because the mice were worked out less than an hour every other day of the week. In contrast, in sedentary mice, the study found that stem cells had a greater chance of being converted to a fat cell. (3)

According to lead researcher Parise, “The interesting thing was that a modest exercise program was able to significantly increase blood cells in the marrow and in circulation. What we're suggesting is that exercise is a potent stimulus -- enough of a stimulus to actually trigger a switch in these mesenchymal stem cells.” (4)

Another interesting observation from the study was that the make-up of the bone marrow cavity dictated the production of blood stem cells.

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