Exercise and Energy Restriction to Improve Health: Recent Research
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Exercise and Energy Restriction to Improve Health: Recent Research

Karyn L Hamilton, RD, PhD, FACSM | Sep 10, 2018

This is part three of a series of blogs from attendees at ACSM's Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise. The following blog is a reflection on the symposium "Exercise and Energy Restriction to Improve Health: The Crossroads of Energetics and Protein Turnover" by Karyn Hamilton, RD, PhD, FACSM.

What an honor to be part of the IPE symposium “Exercise and Energy Restriction to Improve Health: The Crossroads of Energetics and Protein Turnover” on Friday afternoon. Despite the happy hour time slot and the outstanding weather in San Diego providing a tempting distraction, the session was well-attended.

Dr. Colin Selman served as a perfect chairperson for the event, keeping the speakers on schedule and on task. One notable characteristic of this session, and all of the symposia I attended, was how perfectly focused the collective presentations were—as if the speakers had been working together on the content for weeks.

Dr. John Speakman runs two research groups: one in Beijing China and the other in Aberdeen, Scotland. His contribution to the symposium focused on altering energetics with exercise and energy restriction to impact healthspan. One overriding question of Dr. Speakman’s talk, and this area of research in general, is: Can interventions such as energy restriction and exercise increase human lifespan? Dr. Speakman made compelling arguments about genetic pleiotropy and provided terrific “food for thought” that even attendees who do not focus their work on this area of research could appreciate, such as “What makes you healthy and live a long time, might also make you run more!” I heard some attendees quipping that it doesn’t really matter if calorie restriction makes humans live longer when it makes the adorable grey mouse lemur live longer.

Dr. Tracy Anthony of Rutgers University did an outstanding job of framing the cutting-edge research she does with the integrated stress response, in the context of “Exercise is Medicine.” She pointedly provided an overview of how Exercise is Medicine is actually hormesis in action; The complex physiological stresses evoked by exercise stimulate integrated adaptations that, in turn, provide protection or “resilience” to future stresses. As Dr. Anthony pointed out, “The metabolic path to health is complicated,” but the work in her lab is going a long way to help unravel the complex responses to exercise and other energetic stresses.

I was the final speaker in the symposium—quite intimidating to follow Drs. Speakman and Anthony. This was a perfect opportunity to provide an overview of our findings using four long-lived murine models that have in common both extended healthspan and activation of energetic stress signaling. The work our research team carried out clearly demonstrates activation of mechanisms favoring mitochondrial proteostasis during energetic stress, with the trade-off being slower cell proliferation or growth.

ACSM’s Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise provided the perfect opportunity to share published and unpublished data demonstrating the importance of understanding interactions between exercise and pharmacological interventions that also extend healthspan. It is fair to say that if you are interested in the crossroads between energetics and health, you should keep your eye on work emerging from the labs directed by the speakers in this symposium.

Website for Dr. Speakman's lab at the University of Aberdeen. 
Information on Dr. Anthony's lab. 
Website for Dr. Hamilton's lab. 

Read part 1 of this series: "Can Exercise Fill the Reductionist Gap? Reflections on Dr. Michael Joyner's Keynote."
Read part 2 of this series: "Are Exercise 'Mimetics' a Realistic Substitute for Exercise Training? Reflections on the Debate." 


Karyn L. Hamilton, RD, PhD, FACSM, is a member of the faculty at Colorado State University. She serves as a professor in the Health and Exercise Science department, the Director of the Translational Research on Aging and Chronic Disease Lab and Associate Director of the Center for Healthy Aging. She earned her bachelor's and and master's degrees at Montana State University and her Ph.D. at the University of FLorida where she worked in Scott Powers' lab.