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Surprising Science

Exercise Makes You Younger

As we age, our bodies change in ways that challenge athletic ability. But exercise also can slow down—and in some cases even prevent—some of the physiological ravages of time.

What’s the Latest Development?

Many of the biological changes physicians have assumed to be inevitable consequences of the aging process can be delayed, even prevented, by exercising. Among the lamentable changes which exercise can prevent are the loss of motor neurons which make vital connections between muscle fibers. “It will [also] partially, but not completely, prevent arterial stiffening with age and completely prevent the dysfunction of the arterial lining that develops with age, says Douglas Seals, a physiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

What’s the Big Idea?

“Exercise, it turns out, is probably as powerful as any other kind of prevention strategy or treatment that has been assessed so far,” says Seal. That will come as welcome news to those wishing to stay young without spending fortunes on anti-aging procedures or late-stage medical procedures. Jim Hagberg, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland in College Park, says: “A lot of things that we thought were just inherent to the aging process and were going to happen no matter what don’t really have to happen if you maintain an appropriate lifestyle.”


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