How Exercise Keeps You Young

We’ve been saying it for years, but now we have one more piece of evidence: Exercise can keep you young.

Last week, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published research demonstrating that exercise was able to reduce almost all the visible and functional effects of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace, according to an article in the New York Times. This study is incredibly crucial information for the human lifespan.

For this experiment, professors at McMaster University in Ontario used lab mice whose mitochondria carried a genetic mutation that affected their ability to repair dysfunctional mitochondria.

We all learned in 7th grade biology that mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They combine oxygen and other nutrients to create cellular energy. Inevitably, the rodents’ mitochondria begin to malfunction and die over time, which is suspected as the beginning of the aging process in mammals.



Researchers believe that when mitochondria fail, every cell in the body can be affected. Mitochondrial failure can result in chronic fatigue, neurological disruption, problems with sight and hearing, hair loss and muscle weakness. Sound familiar? We usually call these symptoms “getting old.”

The mice in the study all developed mitochondrial disorders by three months of age — which is equivalent to 20 years in human terms. One group went about “life” normally, without exercising. By the time these mice were eight months, or 60 in human terms, they were in poor health and all were dead before the age of one.

The other group of mice exercised on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week for five months beginning around the time the genetic mutation began developing. At eight months, while the other group of mice was frail and close to death, these mice looked and functioned quite youthfully. They had healthier hearts, dark full hair, greater brain volume and muscle mass and well functioning sexual organs.

This experiment demonstrates that, to an extent, all rational organisms have control over their individual aging processes. These mice showed that exercise could, in fact, prevent and slow down the aging process. Exercise was seen as the main factor that set the two groups of mice apart.

I am intrigued by longevity and the factors that either extend or limit it. I have always been a proponent of exercise and think it is an incredibly important part of anyone’s life. Firsthand, I have experienced the positive effects of exercising. Over 20 years ago, I was suffering from horrible migraines, living off of an unhealthy diet and was even a smoker. I was intent in taking control of my migraines, so I started running. Almost instantly, I felt better. My unhealthy cravings subsided, my debilitating headaches lessened and I was motivated to stop smoking. My skin began to look better, my hair was thicker and I had a mind-blowing surge in energy. I looked, felt and functioned 100 times better than I had before.

It was my own experience that made me understand the power of exercise and this experience that has me so interested in the findings of this experiment.

When my clients come to me expressing concerns with their appearance and energy levels, while I may suggest different nutrients depending on the individual, I always recommend upping their workout routine. One hundred percent of the time my clients list exercise, whether intense or moderate, as one of the top things that they find most beneficial to their daily routines.

Although it is already widely known that exercise is advantageous, these kinds of experiments can serve as additional proof. I can’t understand why our culture is so adverse to exercise when it can and will increase your quality of life and make you look younger.