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Do muscles retain memory of their former fitness?

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Good news, former gym rats: The hours you spent pumping iron may make it easier for you to get back into shape and could also stave off frailty in old age. That's according to findings recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Discovery News reports on the University of Oslo study:

Muscles retain a memory of their former fitness even as they wither from lack of use. That memory is stored as DNA-containing nuclei, which proliferate when a muscle is exercised. Contrary to previous thinking, those nuclei aren't lost when muscles atrophy ... Since the extra nuclei don't die, they could be poised to make muscle proteins again, providing a type of muscle memory.

Although the research is preliminary, the results offer hope that injury-sidelined athletes and fitness enthusiasts may be able to quickly bounce back after restarting their training. And the findings could give the rest of us a push in the right direction to resume our gym routines.
Previously: Exercise may lower women's risk of dementia later in life and Midlife exercise linked to better aging in women
Photo by greg westfall

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