How does exercise decrease the effects of aging?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

While exercise might be something you dread, physical activity is more than a common-sense weight-loss method. On the cellular level, exercise can elongate telomeres, decreasing the effects of aging. A well-rounded fitness routine should include weight training and aerobic exercise three times a week. A simple way that you can test how old your muscles think you are is by doing push-ups.





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Sharine Forbes
Geriatric Medicine

It is important to have an exercise regime with different types of exercise as it can help target different muscles and help maintain thickness of muscles along with speed, strength and endurance. For example, exercising regularly can help aid in muscle cell repair which can prove to be very beneficial in sustaining the skeletal system as the amount of muscles cells found in an elder is much smaller then the amount found in a young person. Additionally, exercise helps the space between the muscles remain free of fat and fibrous tissue thus preserving the strength of the muscle.

Exercise training can be beneficial as lifting weights can make muscles thicker in cross-sectional areas. Therefore, an individual should focus on the amount of weight they can lift as opposed to the amount of repetitions they do with each lift, as the strength of a muscle is directly proportional to its lean cross-sectional area. Improving endurance would require much more repittions and less of a focus on how much weight can be lifted as the amount of mitochondria that are present increase in order to produce more ATP and create more energy. Power training would be a combination of endurance and strength training, which can be beneficial in making muscles both thicker and stronger. 

Exercise will help keep your body feeling young.  Exercise will aid in keeping your muscles active.  Having active muscle will lead to increases in strength and balance.  It will also lead to a stronger immune system, stronger heart, and strong lungs.  In addition, exercise will give you energy making you alert and feeling refreshed on a daily basis.

Does all of that sound like someone who is young?  Surely hope so.  Always remember, you are only as old as you feel.  The more you exercise and the younger you will feel!

If you want to be a decade younger, you don't need a time machine -- you need a treadmill, a bike or just a good pair of sneakers. The most physically active people in a recent study showed signs of being as much as 10 years younger on a cellular level.

How does exercise do that? By keeping your telomeres long and healthy. Telomeres are like the plastic tips on shoelaces. But in your body, they cap the ends of the DNA strands (chromosomes) in all your cells. Over time, your telomeres can shorten to the point where cells stop regenerating, and even die (think accelerated aging). Shortened telomeres also leave your chromosomes vulnerable to the kind of damage that may trigger diseases such as cancer.

The fact that exercise keeps your cells renewing themselves and protects your DNA is good motivation to get out there.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.