Exercise definitely gives you more energy and keeps you in shape. But new research from McMaster University suggests that endurance exercise might help fight, and even reverse, the signs of aging, such as balding, grey hair and thinning skin.
Endurance exercise is aerobic activity’such as brisk walking, running or cycling’that improves cardio-respiratory fitness, according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. The longer you can do aerobic exercise, the more endurance you have.
In the McMaster study, lead researcher Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky had mice with physical characteristics comparable to a middle-aged person do 45-minute runs three times a week. Their skin became tighter, and their fur grew back and stopped turning grey.
‘Exercise doesn’t just affect the heart and muscles; perhaps it produces hormone-like chemicals that have beneficial effects on other tissues,’ says Tarnopolsky. ‘Aging is inevitable, but my research shows exercise keeps people healthy and active, and can help them live longer.’
He and his team are currently comparing the cells of endurance athletes and sedentary people to find which hormone chemicals can reverse aging. The paper is expected within the year. Tarnopolsky’s previously published reports show that for those age 65 and older, exercise can reverse muscle aging by 20 years.
An avid runner himself, Tarnopolsky warns that since active people are also more likely to be outside, the sun could counteract the health benefits of exercise for the skin. So be sure to slather on the sunscreen before you head out. Also, building your endurance takes time and requires regular training. But isn’t potentially finding the fountain of youth an incredible incentive?