Growing Younger By Exercise (6-1-2007) 

Growing Younger by... exercise

Gym workouts can help you stay young
May 24, 2007

GYM training can rejuvenate the muscles of older people in a way that appears to reverse ageing, a study has shown.
Researchers found that muscle tissue seemed to become younger with exercise.

Some 25 over-65s, with an average age of 70, took part in the study and trained at a gym.

Not only did they build strength, but the molecular machinery powering their muscles became as active as that in people of 20 or 30.

In the first study of its kind, the Canadian scientists measured gene activity in tissue removed from the pensioners' thighs and compared it with samples from a group of 20- to 35-year-olds.

Simon Melov, who co-led the research at McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, said: "We were very surprised by the results of the study. We expected to see gene expressions that stayed fairly steady in the older adults.

"The fact that their genetic fingerprints so dramatically reversed course gives credence to the value of exercise, not only as a means of improving health, but of reversing the ageing process itself."

Young and old volunteers had similar diets and levels of daily exercise, and none took medicines or had diseases that might have affected the study results.

The older participants were put through six months of resistance training using standard gym equipment.

Before training, the pensioners were on average 59 per cent weaker than the young adults. Afterwards, they were only 38 per cent weaker -- an improvement of about half.

But the most remarkable change was hidden in the mitochondria, the rod-like power plants that sit within every cell and generate energy.

Measuring gene "expression", or activity, in the mitochondria allowed the scientists to shine a light on one of the key elements of ageing. They found that exercise reversed this genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the young volunteers.