The Fountain of Youth
Ponce de Leon had it all wrong – the Fountain of Youth isn’t some magic water source. The Fountain of Youth is exercise!
A health club member turned me on to a recent NY Times article that highlighted a study on exercise and autophagy. I discovered that autophagy is essentially cellular purging in which accumulated “junk” inside bodily cells is cleaned up and burned as energy. Apparently, scientists believe that if autophagy slows down or becomes inefficient, it contributes to disease development as well as the aging process itself. Seems like something that warrants concern, right? Well, the study results suggest that exercise is an effective way of enhancing this critical metabolic cleanup. If the theoretical connections are correct, exercise enhances autophagy and, by association, alters the aging process!
There is another interesting study from 2007 in which researchers looked at moderately heavy strength training’s effect on genetic expression. They found that six months of moderately heavy strength training not only improved the strength of older adult subjects, but actually changed their genetic expression; it made their genes look “younger.”
Understanding the positive effects of exercise on a cellular and genetic level really just reinforces what we already know – exercise is really good for us! It helps us maintain our weight, reduce stress, sleep better, and keep functioning at a high level so we don’t lose our quality of life. Now it looks like it has some positive effects on reversing the aging process. Do we really know of anything better…?