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Effects of Myokine: Its Importance for Mental and Psychosomatic Health


In the world of medicine and health sciences, the human body is often viewed through the prism of its organs and functions. The heart pumps blood, and the lungs provide oxygen, but how often do we think of our muscles as anything other than just structures that enable movement? Recent research has unveiled a fascinating facet of our musculature: it acts like a huge gland that releases a variety of proteins, known as myokines. These myokines have far-reaching effects on our entire body, including our mental and psychosomatic well-being.


A person rides a bicycle in the city.

The Discovery of Myokines

The science behind myokines is relatively young, with their discovery beginning only in the early 2000s. These small proteins are released by muscle cells during contraction and act similarly to hormones or cytokines by affecting different parts of the body. Their role is remarkable: they can act as anti-inflammatories, regulate metabolism, and even affect brain function.



Myokines and Mental Health

The connection between myokines and mental health is particularly interesting. Studies have shown that physical activity, which stimulates the release of myokines, has positive effects on mental health. Myokines like irisin, often referred to as the "exercise hormone," have been linked to a reduction in depression symptoms and could play a role in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.



Myokines and Psychosomatic Health

On a psychosomatic level, myokines play a role in reducing inflammation and improving overall body sensation. Chronic inflammation is often associated with a range of psychosomatic conditions, from persistent pain conditions to exhaustion. Thus, the anti-inflammatory effects induced by myokines can help alleviate these symptoms.



The Best Exercise to Stimulate Myokines

To optimally benefit from myokines, a combination of endurance and strength training is recommended:


  • Endurance Training: Activities like running, cycling, or swimming, ideally 150 minutes per week, can promote the release of myokines and strengthen the cardiovascular system.


  • Strength Training: Two to three sessions per week that involve all major muscle groups can not only increase muscle mass and strength but also stimulate specific myokines associated with muscle growth and repair.



Conclusion

The concept of musculature as a kind of endocrine gland opens up new perspectives on the importance of regular physical exercise. It's not just about getting "in shape" or improving physical appearance. It's rather about promoting the release of myokines through targeted training, thereby fundamentally enhancing our mental and psychosomatic health. Muscles are not just our physical strength—they are also key players in our overall well-being.


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Studies:


1. Pedersen, B. K., & Febbraio, M. A. (2008). Muscle as an endocrine organ: Focus on muscle-derived interleukin-6. Physiological Reviews, 88(4), 1379-1406. This study discusses the role of myokines, particularly interleukin-6, which is released during muscle contraction and has various systemic effects.

2. Huh, J. Y. (2018). The role of exercise-induced myokines in regulating metabolism. Archives of Pharmacal Research, 41(1), 14-29. This review examines how myokines released during physical activity influence metabolism and potentially provide therapeutic targets for treating metabolic diseases.

3. Boström, P. et al. (2012). A PGC1-α-dependent myokine that drives brown-fat-like development of white fat and thermogenesis. Nature, 481(7382), 463-468. This study discovered irisin, a myokine released during physical activity that can transform white fat into brown fat, crucial for regulating body weight and body heat.

4. Schnyder, S., & Handschin, C. (2015). Skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ: PGC-1α, myokines, and exercise. Bone, 80, 115-125. This article provides a detailed discussion on the role of myokines released by skeletal muscles and their potential therapeutic applications.

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