Mitochondrial health is the foundation of your overall health—the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, after all, and provides the energy needed for your entire body to function. (Yes, your entire body.) And exercise is downright necessary for mitochondrial benefits.
“People have this idea that when you have this special diet, these molecules just go right into your cells and do something wonderful,” says Marx de Salcedo. “That’s kind of a misconception. You can take in whatever kind of molecules you want, but nothing’s going to happen in those cells with those molecules unless you exercise.”
You see, when you perform workouts that challenge you, your muscles are briefly starved for oxygen (hypoxia), which stimulates the production of mitochondria1. “The mitochondria have to work at a much higher rate than they do when you’re just sitting around,” explains Marx de Salcedo. “The mitochondria are producing energy at a rate that is [up to] 50 to 100 times faster. Everything’s just vastly speeded up.”
This is especially important as you get older since you tend to lose mitochondria with age. That’s why experts encourage stimulating mitochondrial health to enhance longevity.