A new study shows that endurance training can reverse skin aging in people who start exercising later in life. Volunteers aged 65 or older responded to exercise with skin composition very similar to 20- to 40- year olds.
As we age, changes occur within the layers of our skin. After age 40, the outer layer of the epidermis begins to thicken, getting drier, denser and flakier. The layer of skin just beneath begins to thin, losing cells and elasticity, making it appear more translucent and less firm.
As recently reported in the New York Times, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario conducted a study to see whether such changes are inevitable. The surprising results showed that at the start of the study the volunteers, age 65 or older, had normal skin for their age. However at the end of a three month program of 30 minutes of moderate intensity jogging or cycling twice a week, their skin samples compared to those of much younger people.
In order to understand how exercise causes these changes, the researchers further checked for alterations in levels of substances created by the working muscles. Called myokines, these substances are known to jump start changes in cells far from the muscles themselves. They found that the volunteers had almost 50 percent more myokines after exercising than at the start of the study. It's unlikely that any pill, cream or injection will ever compare to the skin benefits of a workout!
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