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Exercise may keep skin younger and reverse skin aging, says new study

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Exercise has undoubtedly been proven to be good for the mind, body, and even the spirit, but a new study now finds that it can help skin look younger and even reverse the skin aging process. According to The New York Times, around the age of 40, skin begins to thicken and becomes drier and flakier every year thereafter. Sagging also occurs as the skin loses its elasticity and opaqueness.

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario conducted a study to determine if anything – outside of prescription anti-aging products or cosmetic procedures – could stave off or reverse these telltale signs of aging skin. According to the Times, earlier studies at the university demonstrated that mice who maintained a steady exercise program had healthy brains, muscles, hearts, and reproductive organs much longer than their sedentary counterparts.

The Week cited the Times report, noting that Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and exercise science at McMaster oversaw the study. For the investigation, 29 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 84 participated – both males and females. Each had a sample of skin biopsied and when compared, the samples aligned with participants’ ages, reports the Times. Subsequently, half of the participants exercised for at least three hours of moderate or vigorous activity a week, while the other half worked out for less than an hour per week.

The participants who exercised and were over 40 had healthier skin that was comparable in composition to individuals 20 and 30 years old rather than people their own age – even for those participants beyond the age of 65. To verify their findings, researchers examined a another group of sedentary volunteers, aged 65 and older, placing them on an exercise routine. At the commencement of the study, their skin was examined and found to be normal for their age, but after working out twice a week at a moderate or vigorous pace, their skin had inner and outer layers that looked similar to individuals between the ages of 20 and 40.

According to the Times, Dr. Tarnopolsky said of the findings, “I don’t want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see,” noting that “all they had done differently was exercise.” The change is theorized to have taken place due to changes in myokines, which enter the bloodstream and “jump-start” cell transformation. In the study, researchers found elevated levels of the myokine called IL-15, at an increased rate of about 50 percent after exercise when compared to before the participants began working out, the Times reports.

Although there is no evidence that sun damaged skin can be corrected through exercise, Dr. Tarnopolsky still believes it is “astonishing” to think about the number of ways exercise benefits the body, including the skin.

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