Living well Your Health & Wellness

Exercise can slow down the aging of your heart and muscles substantially

Written by Diane Archer

Aging is part of life. But you may be able to slow down the aging process biologically if you exercise regularly. While it is hard to control the aging of your skin, it appears that you may be able to slow down the aging of your muscles and heart substantially. The New York Times reports on a recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The researchers found that active older men and women in their 70’s, who have exercised regularly throughout their adult lives, have muscles that are hard to differentiate from 25 year olds who are in good health. Younger and older adults who exercise regularly have the same number of enzymes and capillaries.

Active older adults in their 70’s also are better able to engage in aerobic exercises than most other people in their 70’s. While they did not have the same aerobic capacity as people in their 20’s, it was 40 percent better than people their age who were not active. And, it was about the same as people in their 40’s.

This study looked at 28 people who exercise recreationally. And, it was an observational study, so it does not prove that exercise caused these health improvements or whether other factors, such as genes and diet, played a material role. Moreover, it does not tell us the extent to which taking up serious exercise in later life is associated with “younger” muscles and hearts. Other studies show that people who exercise seriously, not recreationally, into old age tend to have healthier muscles, brains, immune systems and hearts than people who are not active.

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