“Workouts get harder if you break a good exercise habit due to crucial protein” – Miriam Stoppard
New research from the University of Leeds shows a vital protein in the body could play an important role in helping us achieve our fitness goals, says Dr Miriam Stoppard
Image: Getty Images)
I am all too aware that if I drop my daily exercise, it is extremely difficult to regain control and get back to my normal routine.
I thought it was just my muscles getting lazy, but University of Leeds research shows it goes deeper.
My deconditioning could be due to the deactivation of a vital protein in the body called Piezo1, which increases the number of blood vessels carrying blood to the muscles.
Disabling Piezo1 reduces blood flow to muscles, making it harder to exercise and reducing what you can do.
The results would help explain why workouts, jogging and walks become more difficult if you break the habit.
Fiona Bartoli, postdoctoral researcher at Leeds Medical School said: “Our study highlights the crucial link between physical activity and physical performance made at this level by Piezo1.”
While the experiments were conducted in mice, the same protein is found in humans, suggesting that similar results would occur in us.
Bartoli added: “Exercise protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and cancer.
“Unfortunately, many people do not exercise enough, for reasons such as injury and computer use. This puts people at increased risk of disease. The less people exercise, the less fit they become, which often leads to a downward spiral.
“Keeping our Piezo1s active through exercise can be crucial to our physical performance and health.”
Two groups of mice – a control group and a group whose Piezo1 levels had been disrupted for 10 weeks – were studied while walking, climbing and running on their wheel.
Piezo1-disrupted mice showed a striking reduction in activity levels, suggesting that the protein plays an important role in maintaining normal physical activity.
The researchers examined whether the mice were simply less interested in exercise, but found no difference in the amount or duration of activity between the two groups.
Instead, the mice simply ran slower, suggesting that their ability to exercise had diminished, rather than the desire to do so. Like me.
Supervising author, Professor David Beech, says: “Our work sheds new light on how the role of Piezo1 in blood vessels relates to physical activity.
“Our discovery also offers an opportunity to think about how loss of muscle function could be treated in new ways.
“If we activate Piezo1, it could help maintain exercise capacity.”
Pass the Piezo pellets1.