Reduce wrinkles with exercise, study suggests

By Jenna Iacurci, Parent Herald April 17, 04:41 pm

It's hardly news that exercise is great for your health, but it may reverse skin aging in people who start a workout regimen later in life, a surprising new study finds.

As we get older, skin loses its elasticity and luster, resulting in the dreaded, but inevitable, wrinkles, crow's feet and sagging. But researchers at McMaster University in Ontario observed in lab mice that exercise could prolong and even undo aging's effects, their report says. Mice that frequented the running wheel maintained healthy brains, hearts, muscles, reproductive organs, but also didn't gray.

To confirm the theory, the scientists took volunteers ages 20 to 84, half of whom were active (engaging in at least three hours of moderate or vigorous physical activity every week), and half of whom were sedentary, only exercising for less than an hour per week.

"I don't want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see," Tarnopolsky told The New York Times. Under a microscope, the active volunteers' skin "looked like that of a much younger person, and all that they had done differently was exercise," the researcher said.

Tarnopolsky and colleagues conducted the study in a way that would rule out any other factors as the deciding cause for these positive changes. Seniors over age 65 who indulged in moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day over a three-month period had skin similar to 20- to 40-year-olds, biopsy results proved.

"We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant," dermatologist Ellen Marmur, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told WebMD.

Exactly how exercise changes skin is unclear. But regardless, "it is astonishing to consider all of the intricate ways in which exercise changes our bodies," Tamopolsky noted.

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