Physical activity has been found to aid the maintenance of health in the elderly. Exercise-induced skeletal muscle contractions lead to the production and secretion of many small proteins and proteoglycan peptides called myokines. Thus, studies on myokines are necessary for ensuring the maintenance of skeletal muscle health in the elderly. This review summarizes 13 myokines regulated by physical activity that are affected by aging and aims to understand their potential roles in metabolic diseases. We categorized myokines into two groups based on regulation by aerobic and anaerobic exercise. With aging, the secretion of apelin, β-aminoisobutyric acid (BAIBA), bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP-7), decorin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), interleukin-15 (IL-15), irisin, stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), sestrin, secreted protein acidic rich in cysteine (SPARC), and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) decreased, while that of IL-6 and myostatin increased. Aerobic exercise upregulates apelin, BAIBA, IL-15, IL-6, irisin, SDF-1, sestrin, SPARC, and VEGF-A expression, while anaerobic exercise upregulates BMP-7, decorin, IGF-1, IL-15, IL-6, irisin, and VEGF-A expression. Myostatin is downregulated by both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. This review provides a rationale for developing exercise programs or interventions that maintain a balance between aerobic and anaerobic exercise in the elderly.
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