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Currently selected for this coming member’s digest by team member Melisa B.

Adequate exercise is one of the most effective lifestyle interventions to improve aging, but many people, especially older adults, can find it difficult to exercise. In a study published this month, researchers tested the effects of resveratrol as an adjuvant therapy to exercise for older adults with physical limitations.

The word “adjuvant” has roots in Latin that mean “helping toward.” Adjuvant therapies are add-ons that may improve the effectiveness of other interventions. Resveratrol is known to activate mitochondria through a protein called PGC-1α, the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. Therefore, resveratrol may boost the benefits of exercise by enhancing mitochondrial adaptation in skeletal muscle.

The purpose of this randomized controlled pilot study was to determine the safety and feasibility of chronic exercise combined with resveratrol supplementation. The investigators split a group of 60 adults (average age, 71 years) with physical limitations into three groups. All three groups completed supervised walking and whole-body resistance training twice weekly for 12 weeks. One group took 500 milligrams of resveratrol daily, another took 1,000 milligrams of resveratrol daily, and the third group took a placebo. The participants completed a battery of physical function tests and gave blood so the researchers could measure markers of cardiovascular risk.

On average, participants completed 82 percent of their exercise sessions and took 85 percent of their resveratrol doses, indicating that the intervention was acceptable for most participants. The rate of adverse events was similar between groups with an average of nine events, indicating that the intervention was safe. Pilot studies are not designed to evaluate the effect of the study intervention on health; however, the authors reported some promising early results. Participants in the 1,000 milligram group exhibited a clinically-significant increase of 449 meters in their 6-minute walk test and increased levels of citrate synthase, a common marker of mitochondrial volume.

The authors are planning a large-scale clinical trial to build on these preliminary results.

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