We search far and wide to find out how to prevent wrinkles. Could exercise be the true fountain of youth?
The latest connection between exercise and skin aging will make you want to cinch up your runners. Not only can it prevent the signs of aging on skin, but actually reverses damage already done.
It’s no secret that as we age our skin takes a landslide. The reason? Our outer layer of skin, called the stratum corneum, becomes thicker and drier. The layer just under this top layer, the dermis, becomes thinner and loses elasticity. These natural stages of skin aging are what cause wrinkling, sagging, dull looking skin often experienced after we hit the big 4-0.
We rub, scrub, pat, and polish in hopes of keeping our youthful complexion intact. Some even resort to more extreme measures of plumping and filling. But have we been overlooking a simpler, much more natural way of anti-aging? What if all we need is a decent pair of kicks and access to a treadmill or the great outdoors to keep skin in tip top shape?
A study by McMaster University in Ontario conducted last year shows that heart pumping exercise has benefits beyond burning calories. Inspired by a previous study on mice that showed promising anti-aging effects due to exercise, the research team put this theory to the test with humans. The scientists brought together male and female volunteers, aged 20-84. The group included individuals who exercised regularly and those who were minimally active. Because they wanted to test skin that had minimal sun exposure, butt cheeks were biopsied and examined under a microscope.
Where age was concerned, the sample results were about as expected. Older folks had thicker outer layers and thinner inner layers than younger volunteers. Then the scientist examined the samples by exercise habits. The results showed that volunteers over 40 who exercised more regularly had much thinner outer layers and thicker inner layers, more similar to those in the 20-30 age group. And some of these were over 65.
Yeah, but could this all be chalked up to exercise? Really??, you may be asking. Well, the research team at McMaster U wanted to know too. So they formed a group of volunteers, 65 and older, who were normally sedentary, and had them begin regular exercise. At the end of three months, the volunteers had new skin biopsies.
And guess what? The skin of these formerly sedentary participants looked pretty darn similar to those of the 20-40 year olds. This is a big deal. It suggests that regular exercise not only keeps skin younger, but can actually reverse signs of aging. Even when started after the age of 65.
How can this be? The answer is not crystal clear, but the researchers have a theory. Myokines, substances that enter the bloodstream when working out, create cellular change. Skin samples of volunteers who began exercising contained almost 50 percent more of these substances than when they were more sedentary. And no, myokine-replicated skin care would likely not produce the same benefits. Getting your sweat on is the only way to get in on this good stuff.
We already knew that regularly working out keeps our body and cardiovascular system in good shape and relieves stress. Now we find out it may actually be better at keeping skin youthful than any cream? That sure moves the daily run to the top of our priorities list.
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