Exercising May Actually Reverse the Aging of Skin

Science keeps coming up with more reasons as to why we should get up off our asses on a regular basis and actually move around. The latest: exercise not only keeps skin looking young, it may also reverse the aging of skin for people who start working out later in life.

In a recent study, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario investigated if exercise could help with keeping skin looking younger. Earlier studies at McMaster, performed on mice, found that exercise could prevent or even undo early aging in the animals.

When members of this breed of mice remained sedentary, they rapidly grew wizened, frail, ill, demented, and graying or bald. But if they were given access to running wheels, they maintained healthy brains, hearts, muscles, reproductive organs, and fur far longer than their sedentary labmates. Their fur never even turned gray.

The next step was to test the theory on humans. The scientists gathered 29 men and women, ages 20 to 84. Half of the participants exercised vigorously three hours a week, while the other half were completely sedentary, exercising less than an hour a week. The researchers then biopsied skin from the participants' buttcheeks.

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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.

Taking into consideration that diet and genes could be a factor in the results, the researchers switched up their methods. They got a group of volunteers, ages 65 and over, who led sedentary lifestyles, took a biopsy of their skin, and then put them on an exercise routine for three months before taking another biopsy of their skin.

What the researchers found was that before engaging in the exercise program, the volunteers' skin looked like a normal 65-year-old sample. But after exercising for three months, the volunteers' skin "looked like that of a much younger person," similar to that of 20 to 40 year olds.