Research: Intense Exercise Helps Your Body Clean Up “Junk Proteins”

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Exercise has a lot of benefits such as: helping you maintain a healthy weight, improving your mental state, building strong muscles and tendons, and more.

The latest research shows another potential benefit.

It seems that intense exercise can help accelerate the body’s internal processes for cleaning up misfolded proteins – also known as “junk proteins”.[1]

Exercise at the gym - biking

Every cell within your body is made from proteins, and there is a complete protein lifecycle that is used by the body to manage the creation and elimination of these proteins.

This essential function is known as proteostatis. It includes protein synthesis, folding, assembly, translocation, and clearance.[2]

Environmental and physiological stress can cause cellular dysfunction – and this can result in the creation defective proteins.

These so-called junk proteins are a problem – aggregations of these have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimers.[3]

Therefore, the body must remove these defective proteins.

The study, conducted by the Harvard Medical School, found this clean-up process is triggered by fluctuating hormone levels.

The researchers were able to link intense exercise to increased levels of activity of this process.

What sort of exercise? In this case the test subjects participated in “vigorous biking”.[4]

The research also found that fasting can show similar benefits, however this was observed in laboratory mice, rather than human subjects.

The level of fasting to produce the results was quite small – 12 hours, or approximately the equivalent of an over-night fast.

In summary, the benefits of physical activity are many – some are obvious and impact our bodies in the short term, and other benefits will only appear over longer amounts of time.

We believe exercise is an essential component for those with sedentary jobs and lifestyles that struggle to achieve the minimum amount of physical activity.


1. Jordan J. S. VerPlank, Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy, Jinghui Zhao, Alfred L. Goldberg. 26S Proteasomes are rapidly activated by diverse hormones and physiological states that raise cAMP and cause Rpn6 phosphorylation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201809254 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809254116

2. Exercise, fasting help cells shed defective proteins

3. The Stress of Misfolded Proteins in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease

4. Vigorous exercise, fasting, hormones improve elimination of toxic, misfolded, unnecessary proteins in mouse and human cells