Mitochondria Exercise Project - Why exercising makes you thin
Welcome to Study Guides!


A man who has ALS

If your mitochondria are not working right, or you have too few mitochondria, you can easily see the results. Your body won't work right, especially the parts of your body that need a lot of energy like nerves and muscles.

For instance, some people think that ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease - is caused by a mutation that makes the mitochondria in your nerve cells not work well. Then your nerve cells gradually die, and you become more and more paralyzed.

If you're doing sports, one reason you need to practice nearly every day is that the more you push your muscles to make more energy, the more your mitochondria will reproduce. Athletes who practise have a lot more mitochondria than those who don't, so they can convert food to energy much faster. This gives them the energy to last through the soccer game, or to finish the race.


As you get older, once you are about thirty years old, your body is not as good at making a kind of protein doctors call AMPK. Your muscle mitochondria need AMPK in order to reproduce, so pretty soon you have fewer mitochondria in your muscles than before. With fewer mitochondria, your muscles can't turn food molecules into energy as well, and if you keep eating as much as you did before, you'll end up with leftover food. The leftover food gets stored as fat, so you start to get fatter. (Ask your parents about how much harder it is to stay thin after you're about 30 years old!)

One way to get your body to make more AMPK is to exercise. The more you exercise, the more AMPK your body will make, even if you are getting older. You'll have more mitochondria, and they'll turn more of your food into energy, and you'll lose weight and be much healthier too.

What are mitochondria?
Cell digestion

Bibliography and further reading:

What are the parts of a cell?
Chemistry Home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more? is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 28 March, 2017