Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reverse Aging (5.25.07)

John Bingham, aka the Penguin says, ""Age is no longer an excuse for inactivity, and inactivity is no longer the reward for getting old."

We all know that exercise makes you look better, some of us will admit that it makes us feel a heck of a lot better, but studies are pouring in proving that resistance training actually REVERSES the aging process in muscle tissue.

A report released online on May 23rd from McMaster University in Ontario detailed a study that involved the before and after analysis of gene expression profiles in tissue samples taken from 25 healthy older men and women. "The gene expression profiles involved age-specific mitochondrial function; mitochondria act as the "powerhouse" of cells. Multiple studies have suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the loss of muscle mass and functional impairment commonly seen in older people. The study was the first to examine the gene expression profile, or the molecular "fingerprint", of aging in healthy disease-free humans."

As we age, our mitochondria start to malfunction - this causes, Sarcopenia - the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle and strength seen in the elderly. As Jon Benson puts it, "Sarcopenia is just the wasting away of muscle
due to age and under-use." It is linked to poor gait, poor balance, falls and fractures. Add osteoporosis to that and you have certain frailty of old age.

Think: Resistance training strengthens the bones.
Resistance training strengthens the muscle.

There is a decline in mitochondrial function as we age. Mitochondria are our "cellular power plants," they generate most of the cell's supply of ATP which is used as a source of chemical energy.

The study showed this decline present in the subjects. However, exercise resulted in a "remarkable reversal of the genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the younger adults. The study also measured muscle strength. Before exercise training, the older adults were 59% weaker than the younger adults, but after the training the strength of the older adults improved by about 50%, such that they were only 38% weaker than the young adults."

With age and no resistance training, researchers found 596 genes expressing themselves with "aging", or decreased mitochondrial function.

But when subjects engaged in resistance training, in this case simple weight training, look what happened --

-- Their strength increased by over 20%;
-- And their genes literally "reverted back" to the
same markers as "younger" genes after only
six months of exercise

We don't *have* to be old and frail, faltering in our steps, too weak to carry our own loads. We chose to become that way by being too lazy to take care of our bodies. You only get one body - why not take care of it in the best way possible so that it is useful for a long, long time? Why maintain it the way you would maintain your most prized possessions?

(Chances are, if you take care of your skin the way you should, your body will not only function like it is younger, you'll look like you're younger. This is where my anti-tanning speech comes out: Tanning does not make one look younger. It does not make one look thinner. It dries your skin. It ages your skin. There is no such thing as "safe" tanning. When you feel the urge to bake yourself in the sun or in a tanning bed, think of how stupid George Hamilton looks. Think of the last over-tanned, hard-looking 50 something you saw that was wrinkled before her time. Don't do it - and don't smoke either!)

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