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Faculty of Health to celebrate its innovative research

Faculty of Health to celebrate its innovative research

Can exercise turn back the clock for aging muscles? Is aerobic or resistance exercise better for decreasing the risk of diabetes in youth? Those are just two of the questions researchers will discuss at the upcoming Faculty of Health Research Celebration.

Robert Haché (left), York's vice-president research & innovation, and Harvey Skinner (below right), dean of York’s Faculty of Health, will host the Research Celebration, Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 2 to 4 pm, in the Scott Library Atrium, Keele campus.

The celebration will highlight innovation in muscle health research at York and will include talks from four Faculty of Health researchers discussing their work.

"This celebration provides an opportunity for the York research community to share knowledge and ideas and to come together to learn more about the breadth and depth of innovative research taking place at the University,” says Haché.

The four researchers will discuss the role muscles play in everything from obesity and diabetes to osteoarthritis and reversing the aging process.

“Keeping people healthier longer, so that they can age positively and avoid chronic diseases and injuries, is at the heart of this celebration of ground breaking research underway in the Faculty of Health,” says Skinner.

Professor Rolando Ceddia, a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator, will discuss “Improving Muscle and Adipose Tissue Function to Treat Obesity and Diabetes: The Role of Exercise and Diet”.

“My research investigates the molecular and physiological mechanisms by which obesity induces dysfunctional metabolic alterations in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle; two tissues that play crucial roles in regulating energy and glucose homeostasis,” says Ceddia, of York’s Muscle Health Research Centre in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science.

Left: Rolando Ceddia 

“We study the effects of exercise, either alone or in combination with nutritional and pharmacological interventions, on glucose and lipid metabolism in diet-induced obesity.”

The presentation will look at the adaptive responses induced by chronic endurance training in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue metabolism, as well as the implications for whole-body energy expenditure. The main goal is to understand the role of exercise and diet in the prevention and/or treatment of obesity and its co-morbidities.

Professor Jennifer Kuk (right) of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science will look at “Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise for Decreasing Diabetes Risk in Obese Youth”. The focus of this talk is to examine the effectiveness of aerobic and resistance exercise for improving insulin resistance in youth using a randomized control design.

Insulin resistance at the site of the muscle is one of the hallmark characteristics of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, says Kuk. Increasingly, youth are presenting with insulin resistance. It is increasingly important to develop non-pharmacological interventions for treating insulin resistance.  

Aerobic and resistance exercise help improve insulin resistance in adults. Aerobic exercise improves muscle glucose metabolism and resistance exercise increases the muscle mass available for uptaking glucose.  

Biology Professor David Hood (left), a Canada Research Chair in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, will discuss the topic, “Can Exercise 'Rescue' Aging Muscles?” Skeletal muscle occupies about 40 per cent of body weight and is a major contributor to whole body health and metabolism.

“As we age, we lose muscle mass, and this is apparent in elderly, frail individuals. The mechanisms of how this muscle mass is lost are not completely understood, but a prominent theory involves the increasing malfunction of mitochondria within muscle cells,” says Hood. “Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, the organelles which supply the energy for cell survival.”

With age, mitochondrial content within muscle declines and they begin to produce molecules called “reactive oxygen species” which inflict damage on cellular DNA. If the DNA in any cell breaks down, the cell dies. In the case of muscle cells, they atrophy or shrink. If many cells atrophy, the body loses muscle mass.

“Research has shown that exercise is a potential non-pharmacological therapy which can be used to reduce the loss of muscle mass by improving mitochondrial function, thereby preserving muscle function as we age,” says Hood.

Professor William Gage (right), associate dean research & innovation, will examine “Muscles and Sore Joints: Arthritis and Muscle Activity”. The knee and hip joints experience large loads when a person walks, says Gage. To deal with those loads, the joints and surrounding muscles act together to allow a person to move, while protecting the joints from the loading that occurs during movement.

As a person moves, their muscles are activated or turned on at the right time by the right amount so their joints will not only move, but their limbs won’t collapse under the weight, says Gage. Sensors in the joints contribute to the nervous system’s knowledge of when and how the muscles should be turned on.

Previous research has shown that when a joint is painful or swollen the sensory information coming from these joint sensors is affected, which in turn affects the activation of the muscles around the joints. A long-term outcome of this response may be osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 50 per cent of those over the age of 65.

“Recent research in our lab has examined how different strategies during walking may influence the amount of loading in the knee joint and how muscles around the joint respond to loads that are imposed on the knee joint,” says Gage. “Future work in our lab will explore how loading and muscle activity are affected by changes in the sensory information that arises from the knee joint.”

To RSVP to Lia Novario, click here by Friday, Jan. 13, or call ext. 33782.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.