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Stay Forever Young With Exercise

By Ashley Hume
Posted On Jul 08, 2016
Stay Forever Young With Exercise

Forget the Fountain of Youth. The secret to staying eternally young has been in front of us all along — and it’s exercise! A study that appeared in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that ‘superb fitness’ is the real key to perpetual youth.

Scientists at the University of Guelph conducted a study on a group of 80-year-olds who were elite track and field athletes during their younger years and still compete in their age bracket. The study found that these octogenarians actually have ‘younger’ muscles than their same-age counterparts who identified as non-athletes. The muscles of the athletic elderly people who participated in the study were actually discovered to be healthier at the cellular level.

The athletes had 14 percent more muscle mass than the non-athletes and their legs were 25 percent stronger on average. They also had one-third more motor units, made up of motor neurons and skeletal fibers, in their leg muscles than those in the non-athletic. Since groups of motor units work together to coordinate the contractions of muscles, a greater amount of motor units equals superior muscle mass and strength.

Motor units tend to deteriorate as the body ages, with the process speeding up rapidly after the age of 60. Lead study author Dr. Geoff Power said, ‘Therefore, identifying opportunities to intervene and delay the loss of motor units in old age is of critical importance.”

Dr. Power stressed the crucial role exercise plays in delaying muscle loss as you age. He said, “Exercise is definitely an important contributor to functional performance.” He added that even those who were non-athletes would benefit from adding exercise to their regimen, even in their 80s and 90s. He noted, “Staying active, even later in life, can help reduce muscle loss.”

Though genetics also plays a role, the potential positive impact of lifelong exercise can’t be discounted. So get off the couch and stop putting off that trip the gym! When you reach the ripe old age of 80, your muscles will thank you for it.