Mitochondria structure changes in elite athletes
It is well known our ability to do physical activity for long periods of time is thanks to efficient energy production in the mitochondria, and that regular endurance training increases numbers in our muscles, and our endurance capacity.
How and why increasing mitochondria improves performance
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However scientists have discovered that muscle endurance is not only determined by the number of mitochondria, but also their structure.
“We’ve found that mitochondria in endurance athletes are constructed in such a way that they generate more energy than mitochondria in non-athletes. In fact, our measurements have shown us that these mitochondria can generate around 25% more energy. This gives a major advantage in endurance sports such as marathon running and cross-country skiing, but also in ball games like soccer,” says Joachim Nielsen, assistant professor of muscle physiology at University of Southern Denmark.