Just 20 Minutes to Younger Muscles

Just 20 Minutes to Younger Muscles

Just 20 minutes of this stuff a day can help keep your muscles young. We're talking about exercise.

Yep, the timeless physique is just minutes away. It appears that, regardless of age, 20 minutes may be all the daily exercise needed to somehow reverse age-related decline in muscle stem cells, those master cells critical to new muscle growth.

20 minutes to youth
Remember Jack LaLanne, the country's first uberfit exercise guru who lived to the ripe old age of 96? Turns out he was really on to something. But don't worry. You probably don't have to become an exercise fanatic like Jack to keep your muscles regenerating as you grow older. In an animal study, just 20 minutes on a treadmill 6 days a week was enough to bestow up to triple the number of stem cells produced in the test subjects. And those extra stem cells are likely behind the subsequent jump in new muscle fibers and additional muscle mass that those test subjects experienced as well. One other benefit: The older rats in the study also exhibited an uptick in "spontaneous locomotion" — a naturally occurring increase in their physical activity levels. (Related: Endurance exercise keeps this important muscle young, too.)

Turn back the clock
It's not clear exactly how exercise increases the number of stem cells in muscle, but stem cells normally remain dormant in adults until a muscle injury or some other event triggers the stem cells to crank out new muscle fibers to replace damaged or dead ones. Exercise may work the same way, increasing stem cells and enhancing their capacity to renew old muscle tissue. Need help getting started on your daily 20? Try these helpful workout hints:

Are you a grandparent? Then find out why active playtime is the best gift you could give your grandkids.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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