Want To Look Younger? Try Exercising

There are plenty of expensive creams and serums on the market that promise youthful, glowing skin, but the best strategy for looking younger than your age may be exercising, according to recent findings presented at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine's annual meetings.

Having noticed that high activity levels seemed to reduce — or even reverse — aging in mice bred to age prematurely, researchers wanted to know if that effect applied to humans. Here's The New York Times on what happened next:

To test that possibility, the scientists first gathered 29 local male and female volunteers ages 20 to 84. About half of the participants were active, performing at least three hours of moderate or vigorous physical activity every week, while the others were resolutely sedentary, exercising for less than an hour per week. Then the researchers asked each volunteer to uncover a buttock.

Why uncover a buttock, you ask? The purpose was to determine the impact of aging independent of sun damage, and (for most people) the buttocks remain relatively unexposed to sunlight compared with, say, the face. After breaking down the group by exercise levels, the researchers discovered that men and women over 40 who were physically active had skin that more closely resembled that of people in their 20s and 30s, even for much older participants.

But the scientists couldn't be sure these results were not the result of other lifestyle factors; to control for this, they asked sedentary adults over age 65 to begin exercising,

[A]t the study’s start, [the study participants] had normal skin for their age. They began a fairly straightforward endurance training program, working out twice a week by jogging or cycling at a moderately strenuous pace, equivalent to at least 65 percent of their maximum aerobic capacity for 30 minutes. This continued for three months. At the end of that time, the researchers again biopsied the volunteers’ skin. But now the samples looked quite different, with outer and inner layers that looked very similar to those of 20- to 40-year-olds.

These are pretty remarkable results, even considering the small sample size. Ultimately, though, it probably helps confirm what you already know: exercising is good for you!

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