Consequences on aging process and human wellness of generation of nitrogen and oxygen species during strenuous exercise

Aging Male. 2020 Mar;23(1):14-22. doi: 10.1080/13685538.2018.1482866. Epub 2018 Jun 27.


Impairment of antioxidant defense system and increase in metabolic rate and production of reactive oxygen species have been demonstrated in strenuous exercise. Both at rest and during contractile activity, skeletal muscle generates a very complex set of reactive nitrogen and oxygen species; the main generated are superoxide and nitric oxide. The nature of the contractile activity influences the pattern and the magnitude of this reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS) generation. The intracellular pro-oxidant/antioxidant homeostasis undergoes alteration owing to strenuous exercise and the major identified sources of intracellular free radical generation during physical activity are the mitochondrial electron transport chain, polymorphoneutrophil, and xanthine oxidase. Reactive oxygen species increased tissue susceptibility to oxidative damage and pose a serious threat to the cellular antioxidant defense system. The possible dangerous consequences of the aging process and human wellness are emphasized in this review.

Keywords: Skeletal muscle; aging process; human wellness; oxidative stress; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitrogen