Fountain of Youth

 

Exercise aids weight control, health, cholesterol, blood pressure, mood, sleep, the risk for cancer and Alzheimers… but does it make you young?

In the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the goal was to find the Holy Grail as it will give eternal life and keep you young. While Indiana was able to save his father, he was not able to stay young. Many movies and stories have been written about people searching for the fountain of youth, and their disappointment in not being able to find it. People pay exorbitant amounts of money in search of a way to stay young. While there is no secret pill or drink that will keep your youth, new research has found that exercise can make you young again. 

Over the past several years multiple studies have shown how exercise can delay the once thought of the inevitable aging process. One recent study showed that men in their 70’s who participated in an active exercise regularly for many years had similar heart, lungs, and muscles to men in their 40’s. The men in their 70s  had similar muscle enzymes and capillaries that indicate the muscle health of young people. The active elderly group did have lower aerobic capacities than the young people, but their capacities were about 40 percent higher than those of their inactive peers. When the researchers compared the active older group’s aerobic capacities to those of established data about “normal” capacities at different ages, they calculated that the aged, active group had the cardiovascular health of people 30 years younger than themselves. 

Another study looked at the effects of six months of strength training in volunteers aged sixty-five and older. The scientists expected to find evidence that the program improved the seniors’ strength, which it did by 50%. They however never expected to see dramatic changes at the genetic level. The genetic fingerprint of those elderly volunteers who had gone through the strength training program was reversed nearly to that of younger people. In other words, the genetic profile of the older men resembled that of a younger group in their 20’s. At the beginning of the six months, researchers found significant differences between the older and younger participants in the behavior of 600 genes. These particular genes become either more or less active with age. By the end of the exercise phase, a third of those genes had changed. 

These findings of muscular and cardiovascular health in active older people suggest that what we now consider to be normal physical deterioration with aging may not be normal or inevitable. 

At FASMA we work to keep your feet pain free and healthy so you can be active, but it’s up to you to be active in hopes to stay young.

 

Dr. Howard Roesen works in our Newport News, VA, Hampton, VA, and Carrollton, VA offices for your convenience.

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