Exercise can slow down the aging process
You knew that exercise was good for you by strengthening your heart muscle, building your bone density and strength as well as combating stress but did you know it actually slows down the aging process?
A new study done at the Sackler School of Medicine in Israel, shows that to age gracefully you need to slow down the loss of muscle mass. Both muscle mass and muscle function decline as you age, a condition called sarcopenia. The combination of sarcopenia along with osteopenia, the loss of bone mass, increases the risk of falling and injury in older people.
The lead researcher of the Sackler study, Professor Dafna Benayahu, suggests that “doing cardio-workouts like bicycling, spinning and jogging assist in rising the quantity of muscle stems all while intensifying their capability to revitalize old muscles”. Professor Benayahu and her team worked with rats to show that exercise increased the number of satellite cells (muscle stem cells) — a number which normally declines with aging. The researchers believe that a decline in the number of these cells and their functionality may prevent proper maintenance of muscle mass and its ability to repair itself, leading to muscle deterioration.
The study had younger and older rats run on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day for 13 weeks and analyzed their muscle stem cells. The younger rats increased their number of stem cells from 20% to 35% and the older rats increased from 33% to 47%. The purpose of the research was in part to start to develop a drug that could increase muscle mass and heal aging muscles faster.
So what can you learn from the Sackler study?
1. Many diseases that are considered a side effect of old age are often a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle
2. Exercise can have even greater affects on building muscle mass in older people than younger
3. You need to exercise often (20-30 mins/day) to see these dramatic results
4. There may be a drug developed in the next few years to help you maintain muscle mass
I would love to hear your thoughts on the research as well as any questions
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