Hormetic effects of regular exercise in aging: Correlation with oxidative stress

Sataro Goto*, Hisashi Naito, Takao Kaneko, Haeyoung Chung, Zsolt Radák

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


To explore mechanisms of the beneficial consequences of regular exercise, we studied the effects of regular swimming and treadmill exercise on oxidative stress in the brain and liver of rats. Protein carbonyl was significantly reduced and the activity of proteasome was upregulated in the brain extracts of young and middle-aged animals after 9 weeks of swimming training. Furthermore, their cognitive functions were significantly improved. In separate experiments, the activation of transcription nuclear factor κB was attenuated in the liver of old rats after 8 weeks of regular treadmill exercise and the DNA binding activity of glucocorticoid receptor reduced with age was restored, suggesting that inflammatory reactions are alleviated by the regimen. This was accompanied by upregulation of the glutathione level and reduced reactive oxygen species generation. Similar training reduced the 8-oxodeoxyguanosine content in the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA of the liver of old rats. Thus, these findings, together with reports of other investigators, suggest that moderate regular exercise attenuates oxidative stress. The mild oxidative stress possibly elicited by regular exercise appears to manifest a hormesis-like effect in nonmuscular tissues, constituting beneficial mechanisms of exercise by adaptively upregulating various antioxidant mechanisms, including antioxidative and repair-degradation enzymes for damaged molecules. Importantly, the adaptation induced by regular exercise was effective even if initiated late in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)948-953
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • 8-oxodG
  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Hormesis
  • Liver
  • NF-κb
  • OGG1
  • Protein carbonyl
  • Rat
  • Regular exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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