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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Jan;88(1):327-31.

Skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise: a century of progress.

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Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211-0001, USA.


Skeletal muscle physiology and biochemistry is an established field with Nobel Prize-winning scientists, dating back to the 1920s. Not until the mid to late 1960s did there appear a major focus on physiological and biochemical training adaptations in skeletal muscle. The study of adaptations to exercise training reveals a wide range of integrative approaches, from the systemic to the molecular level. Advances in our understanding of training adaptations have come in waves caused by the introduction of new experimental approaches. Research has revealed that exercise can be effective at preventing and/or treating some of the most common chronic diseases of the latter half of the 20th century. Endurance-trained muscle is more effective at clearing plasma triglyceride, glucose, and free fatty acids. However, at the present time, most of the mechanisms underlying the adaptation of human skeletal muscle to exercise still remain to be discovered. Little is known about the regulatory factors (e.g., trans-acting proteins or signaling pathways) directly modulating the expression of exercise-responsive genes. Because so many potential physiological and biochemical signals change during exercise, it will be an important challenge in the next century to move beyond "correlational studies" and to identify responsible mechanisms. Skeletal muscle metabolic adaptations may prove to be a critical component to preventing diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, training studies have had an impact on setting the stage for a potential "preventive medicine reformation" in a society needing a return to a naturally active lifestyle of our ancestors.

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