Forget Burning Calories, Exercise Reverses Skin's Aging Process
A new study reveals that working out can stave off -- and even reverse -- signs of aging
Inspired by an older study that showed premature aging in animals could be held at bay by getting them to exercise (rodent spin class?), researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada decided to try it on people.
As the New York Times reports, researchers selected 29 volunteers of both sexes -- half of whom worked out at a vigorous or moderate pace at least three hours a week, the other half sedentary -- and asked them to shine a moon.
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"We wanted to examine skin that had not been frequently exposed to the sun," Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and exercise science explains of why they chose to compare buttocks.
After biopsy-ing skin samples from all, "They found that after age 40, the men and women who exercised frequently had markedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers in their skin. Their skin was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age, even if they were past age 65."
Encouraged by the findings but still not wholly convinced since any number of factors, from genetics to lifestyle, may have swayed the results, the scientists gathered up another group to help them delve deeper.
This time, they corralled people 65 and older who, at the study's onset, had age appropriate skin. The participants were put on a three-month rudimentary exercise program that included cycling or jogging twice weekly at a "moderately strenuous" pace.
At the end of the third month, their skins were biopsied and the results were astounding -- the senior citizens' inner and outer dermis layers resembled those of 20-40 year olds'!
"I don't want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see," said Dr. Tarnopolsky, who explained that in viewing the skin cells under a microscope, it "looked like that of a much younger person, and all that they had done differently was exercise."
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