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Mice Study Suggests Exercise + Healthy Environment = Longer Life

Mice Study Suggests Exercise + Healthy Environment = Longer Life

Researchers have discovered a gene in the brain’s dopamine system can prolong life when combined with an enriched environment that includes exercise.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions studied the genes in dopamine to assess their impact on lifespan and behavior in mice. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers and helps regulate physical mobility and emotional response.

Dr. Panayotis (Peter) K. Thanos, and his team found that the dopamine D2 receptor gene (D2R) significantly influences lifespan, body weight, and locomotor activity. However, a longer life only occurs when the gene is combined with an environment that included social interaction, sensory, and cognitive stimulation and, most critically, exercise.

“The incorporation of exercise is an important component of an enriched environment and its benefits have been shown to be a powerful mediator of brain function and behavior,” Thanos said.

The mice in the enriched environment lived anywhere from 16 to 22 percent longer than those in a deprived environment, depending on the level of D2R expression.

“These results provide the first evidence of D2R gene-environment interaction playing an important role in longevity and aging,” Thanos said.

“The dichotomy over genes versus environment has provided a rigorous and long debate in deciphering individual differences in longevity. In truth, there exists a complex interaction between the two which contribute to the differences.”

The study appears in the journal, Oncotarget Aging.

Investigators believe additional research exploring this genetic-environmental interaction should lead to a better understanding and prediction of the potential benefits of specific environments — including exercise — on longevity and health during aging.

Source: University of Buffalo

Mice Study Suggests Exercise + Healthy Environment = Longer Life

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Mice Study Suggests Exercise + Healthy Environment = Longer Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 25 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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