Of mice and men: the benefits of caloric restriction, exercise, and mimetics

Ageing Res Rev. 2012 Jul;11(3):390-8. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2011.11.005. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


During aging there is an increasing imbalance of energy intake and expenditure resulting in obesity, frailty, and metabolic disorders. For decades, research has shown that caloric restriction (CR) and exercise can postpone detrimental aspects of aging. These two interventions invoke a similar physiological signature involving pathways associated with stress responses and mitochondrial homeostasis. Nonetheless, CR is able to delay aging processes that result in an increase of both mean and maximum lifespan, whereas exercise primarily increases healthspan. Due to the strict dietary regime necessary to achieve the beneficial effects of CR, most studies to date have focused on rodents and non-human primates. As a consequence, there is vast interest in the development of compounds such as resveratrol, metformin and rapamycin that would activate the same metabolic- and stress-response pathways induced by these interventions without actually restricting caloric intake. Therefore the scope of this review is to (i) describe the benefits of CR and exercise in healthy individuals, (ii) discuss the role of these interventions in the diseased state, and (iii) examine some of the promising pharmacological alternatives such as CR- and exercise-mimetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biomimetic Materials / metabolism*
  • Biomimetic Materials / therapeutic use
  • Caloric Restriction* / methods
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Mice