Staying active as you age has sometimes been called the real fountain of youth, but how much do we know about how staying active helps slow aging? Several studies have suggested that pumping iron as you age can do things like improve the genes inside muscle cells. A recent study shows more benefits to the directive of “exercise as you age.”
Past studies have shown some really interesting things with exercise and lifting weights and muscle cells. A 2012 study showed that exercise increases the number of stem cells in your muscles. This happens by the stem cells around blood vessels migrating into muscle to replace muscle stem cells.
We also know that the genes inside muscles are improved by exercise and lifting weights. In one 2015 study, exercise turned back the genetic clock by modifying genes so that they appeared younger. In another study, the muscle stem cells of elderly people who lifted weights were more genetically similar and their muscles more structurally similar to younger people.
The muscles of older people begin to lose stem cells. In every other tissue in the body, stem cells in the tissues are continuously active repairing that tissue, which is how you stay alive.
The new study looked at three groups of mice: old mice that were trained with exercise, old mice that were not exercise trained, and young mice that were not exercised. Changes in muscle repair with aging were discovered by injecting the old mice and young mice with small amounts of deadly snake venom. The study found that after only eight weeks of exercise, old mice experienced faster muscle repair and regained more muscle mass than those of the same age that were not exercise trained.
The upshot? Exercise may not be the fountain of youth to make your visage look younger, but it certainly seems that if you exercise as you age there are significant benefits for your body and muscles. Every aspect of your muscles from their genes, to gene modifications, to stem cells do better when you exercise. So get out there and hit the gym!
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About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…