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Is Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

Is Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

It turns out that the secret to eternal youth might not be as elusive as you think.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario released the results of a study which indicated that regular exercise can not only keep you in shape, it can actually stave off the effects of aging.

The research team analyzed groups of mice who had been genetically altered to prematurely age. One group was forced to run on a treadmill for 45 minutes, three times a week. The other mice were kept sedentary. 

After 5 months, the mice who were forced to exercise were found to be young-looking, sleek-coated and healthy, with the effects of aging virtually non-existent in any of their organs. In contrast, the sedentary mice were greying, slow-moving, socially isolated and less fertile.

“Every part of the body was protected by exercise,” said Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “I think that exercise is the most potent anti-aging therapy available today and likely forever.”

The genetic manipulation of the mice – and the key to the study – is rooted in their mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondria is the “power plant” inside each cell that burns in order to give our body energy. As we age, our mitochondrial DNA accumulates mutations, thus leading to weaker “power plants” and negative effects on our tissues and organs. This leads to the physical manifestations of aging.

The mice were manipulated to have a mitochondrial dysfunction, which led to them die about twice as fast as normal mice and show strong signs of aging, including physical and mental deterioration and organ failure. However, forcing the mice to exercise regularly effectively neutralized the mitochondrial dysfunction and arrested the expected signs of aging shown in the other group.

So while humans aren’t mice, and the study is by no means conclusive, it’s also compelling: You already know exercise is good for your heart and your soul. And now, it’s good for your longevity. 

So what are you waiting for? Get off the internet and go for a walk.

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Photo credit: Martineric on Flickr

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48 comments

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9:32PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Thank you.

9:32PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Thank you.

2:34AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Exercise delays aging. Exercise will keep you away from mental deterioration.

10:44AM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

Well, I started to ride my bike. And with the dog trotting along.
She LOVES it! I really get exercise here, because I have to get off the bike to walk and regulate our speed so that we both don't crash!
Pray that some moron doesn't think of us as 'target practice', because of the same ridiculous attitude towards NOT using a motorized vehicle, is sooo ignorant.
Unless, of course, wearing a costume lends an optical illusion that am a mountain biker...stupid again!
If more people rode their bikes instead of their EGOS everywhere, we'd be richer, fitter, and happier here.
Thanks for reading!

2:26AM PST on Mar 7, 2011

As a professional musician, I sing and dance all the time. Check out www.petraluna.com - thanks.

7:04PM PST on Feb 26, 2011

We don't need to torture mice to work out what will make us 'look younger'. Common sense tells us that being active is better for our health and longevity.

3:21PM PST on Feb 26, 2011

I really enjoy long walks, if only for the anti-stress benefit they confer. There is always something interesting to observe, which for me, beats going to the gym watching other stressed out people work out. If I exercised only for vanity, I wouldn't be getting much out of it at all.

Also, when I lived in Europe, I noticed that walking was preferred over driving, when possible. Here in the US, it seems to be the opposite and I get the impression that when someone is out walking, or God forbid, taking the bus, he or she is considered a 'bum.' I hope that's not really the case, but I can't help but notice such cultural differences.

8:18PM PST on Feb 25, 2011

This is a no-brainer. @Kay, exercise doesn't have to be boring.

7:51AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

well duh! exercise is the healthiest thing you can do. I get more than enough exercise when I count the hours of day that I walk at work, and the walking that I do outside of work.

10:06PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

When will scientists stop using animals to test human responses? I believe if the scientists are incapable of completing their findings on paper (remember math classes? we had to show the work!) Then they'll have to resort to making the tests themselves. That is how scientists used to work, wasn't it? Now they torture innocent victims instead!

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