Scientists may have found a novel method to help regenerate muscle by stimulating the formation of stem cells responsible for growth, repair, and regeneration of damaged tissue. The findings out of Canada could open up powerful new ways in which to treat degenerative conditions such as muscular dystrophy and sarcopenia

Stem cells give rise to all of the tissue and organs in our body. Specialized ones known as satellite stem cells actually reside in the muscles and are precursors to new tissue. Under normal, healthy circumstances, they are dormant and do not undergo cell division or growth. However, they become activated in the event of trauma or disease and undergo differentiation to become mature cells.

By exploiting a specialized protein known as Wnt7a, researchers were actually able to increase the number of active satellite stem cells in animal models, resulting in bigger and stronger muscles, with tissue mass increasing by as much as 20%. Though there is still a lot work that needs to be done, the research may help scientists develop important new ways to treat muscular degeneration, or atrophy, which is becoming a growing problem in a society where inactivity is becoming more common.  

Most people experience some degree of muscular decline with age, a condition known as sarcopenia. As we grow older and are less active, the regenerative process becomes less efficient and muscle is gradually replaced with fat, which can lead to weakness and frailty. Though the condition is generally not life-threatening, it can severely limit a person’s mobility and range of motion, thus increasing their risk for accidents and injury.

In addition to the normal aging process, the most common causes of atrophy are diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, and injury. However, lifestyle choices are becoming an increasingly significant problem. Even though for many people, being inactive is simply a part of the recovery process from injury or disease, a growing number of people are choosing to be sedentary, opting to spend time in front of the TV or computer rather than be active. Coupled with unhealthy dietary choices, the situation can worsen over time and could adversely affect their quality of life.

Whatever be the cause, the new findings represent hope to people suffering from muscular degeneration, but there are in fact ways to help lessen the severity of these conditions and maybe even avoid them altogether. Exercise is perhaps the simplest and most effective way to build strength and stamina, and a healthy diet is a means to this end. Together they can potentially prepare you body for any unforeseen injuries or illnesses that seem to be an inevitable par of life.

Best of all, it doesn’t take much, and could simply require sacrificing an hour or two of “screen time” for a few days a week, and eating a healthier diet. So consult an expert about your options. Speak with your physician or talk to a nutritionist to get some advice about an exercise plan that best suits you, and whatever you do, get out there and move around a little. Break a sweat, if you can, and surround yourself with other active people.

Chances are you could very well look and feel better, and you just might have a lot of fun. You never know, stranger things have happened.