Rejuvenate Through Exercise

Physical activity is one of foundational principles of health, vitality, and longevity. The well-understood benefits of regular moderate exercise include fitness, endurance, weight loss, heart health, flexibility, and bone health.

A recent Canadian study conducted at the McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton has found new compelling reasons to get into a workout routine, reasons that are particularly important to the senior population. Once again, it seems that modern day researchers continue to catch up with time-honored wisdom.

The astonished researchers discovered that exercise, in particular resistance exercises, has a strong rejuvenating effect on muscle tissue in healthy senior citizens.

For the study, some 25 healthy seniors with an average age of 70 trained in a gym twice a week. A group of younger volunteers also participated for purposes of comparison. To assure the most precise research results, the younger and older volunteers ate similar diets, had the same levels of physical activity. Nobody in the test groups took medicines or suffered from diseases.

For the study, the seniors workout comprised of six months of resistance training using standard exercise machines. The bi-weekly exercise routines, which were each an hour in length involved 30 contractions of each muscle group. Measurements of muscle strength showed that before training, the older participants were on average 59% weaker than the younger adults. At the end of the study, they were only 38% weaker - an improvement of almost 50%.

As expected the senior citizens gained new strength. However, the amazing thing was that the molecular machinery powering their muscles became as active as that seen in people who are 35 to 50 years younger. The Canadian scientists measured gene activity in tissue that was removed from the older participants’ thighs and compared it with samples from a group of 20 to 35 year olds.

Dr Simon Melov, who co-led the research, stated: "We were very surprised by the results of the study. We expected to see gene expressions that stayed fairly steady in the older adults. The fact that their ‘genetic fingerprints’ so dramatically reversed course gives credence to the value of exercise, not only as a means of improving health, but of reversing the ageing process itself."

The most remarkable change however was found in the mitochondria, the rod-like ‘power plants’ that sit within every cell and generate energy. Numerous studies have indicated that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the muscle loss and functional impairment seen in older people.

Measuring gene "expression", or activity, in the mitochondria allowed the scientists to shine a light on one of the key elements of aging. They found that physical exercise reversed this genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the young volunteers.

Now, what is the verdict? Exercise is important, however a wholesome diet and exercise will actually increase your exercise benefits. And it really does not matter whether you are using a home gym or work out in the fitness club, as long as you combine your wholesome diet with stretching, some cardio and weight training, you are on a good road.

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