Alejandro Lucia

Alejandro Lucia

Spain - Madrid


Alejandro Lucia, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor in Exercise Physiology and Senior Researcher at the Universidad Europea de Madrid (Spain) and leader of the Research Group in Physical Activity and Health in this institution.

His main interest is to build scientific evidence, from an integrative, holistic perspective, on the preventive––and often therapeutic––effects of physical exercise in several conditions (i.e., ‘exercise is medicine’). He has implemented physical exercise interventions (usually clinical trials with inhospital exercise) aiming at improving the health status of patients with chronic or genetic diseases––adult/pediatric cancer, cystic fibrosis, anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, glycogenosis type V (McArdle disease), mitochondrial disorders, or pulmonary hypertension––as well as of special populations (e.g., pregnant women, fragile or hospitalized older people).

He also studies the different body responses and adaptations to exertion––including the so-called athlete’s heart––and relies on mechanistic approaches when needed (e.g., preclinical disease models, omics), especially with regard to the effects of exercise against cancer development. He has authored more than 700 peer-reviewed publications in PubMed, including in the top journals of several medical specialties, which reflects the integrative approach of his research.


-Universidad Europea de Madrid, Spain
-Instituto de Investigación 12 de Octubre (‘imas12’), Spain

Areas of expertise

-Physical activity and health
-Exercise physiology
-Exercise is medicine
-Biology of exercise


Physical exercise as an important lifestyle factor

Physical exercise as an important lifestyle factor

The current pandemic of physical inactivity in contemporary ‘obesogenic’ environments initiates maladaptations that cause chronic disease and represents a major public health problem. By contrast, regular physical activity/exercise has a profound effect on the expression of a substantial proportion of our genome, which has been selected for optimizing aerobic metabolism to conserve energy (mainly in the subcutaneous adipose tissue) in an environment of food scarcity, resulting in numerous beneficial adaptations as well as in a decreased risk of chronic diseases. There is indeed strong epidemiological evidence indicating that regular physical activity is associated with reduced rates of all-cause mortality and also with a lower risk of numerous major chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, or many types of cancers. Furthermore, a main outcome of regular physical activity, achieving moderate-to-high peak cardiorespiratory fitness (>8 metabolic equivalents of task, commonly abbreviated as ‘MET’), reduces the risk of cardiovascular events and of all-cause mortality. In my talk, I will summarize the aforementioned evidence together with the main biological mechanisms behind the salutary effects of an active lifestyle.

Acknowledgements: Research by Alejandro Lucia in exercise and cancer is funded by the Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds (WKOF), as part of the World Cancer Research Fund International grant programme (grant grant # IIG_FULL_2021_007)