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Dec 10 18, 8:31 am

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Regular exercise seen to help slow down ageing process

by | Feature

Dec. 10, 18 | 8:31 am

In what could yet give new perspectives to the clichéd phrase, “fountain of youth,” researchers at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., have come up with a study comparing old but active people in their 70s, who have regularly been exercising, with age-matched people who don’t and a third group of young people in their 20s, to establish whether exercise is a factor in longevity.

Guess what?

The septuagenarians were found to have muscles “indistinguishable in many ways from those of healthy 25-year-olds,” as the New York Times put it, citing the new study, which was published in August in the Journal of Applied Physiology

“We were very interested in people who had started exercising during the running and exercise booms of the 1970s,” the Times report quoted Scott Trappe, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State and the new study’s senior author, as saying.

Some of them then maintained that hobby throughout the next 50 or so years, running, cycling, swimming or otherwise working out often, even if they rarely or never competed, he added.

The Times report stated that part of the study was done such that “they brought everyone into the lab, tested their aerobic capacities and, using tissue samples, measured the number of capillaries and levels of certain enzymes in the muscles.

“High numbers for each indicate muscular health.”

The study focused on the cardiovascular system and muscles because they are believed inevitably to decline with age and the scientists had expected they would see what Dr. Trappe describes as a hierarchical pattern in differences between the groups,” said the New York Times report.

It added that scientists involved in the study were of the impression that the young people would possess the most robust muscles and aerobic capacities, with the lifelong exercisers being slightly weaker on both areas.

“But that outcome is not precisely what they found. Instead, the muscles of the older exercisers resembled those of the young people, with as many capillaries and enzymes as theirs, and far more than in the muscles of the sedentary elderly,” the report stated.

“Together, these findings about muscular and cardiovascular health in active older people suggest that what we now consider to be normal physical deterioration with aging “may not be normal or inevitable,” it further quoted Dr. Trappe as saying.

The study has its limitations, the New York Times report said, citing that the study was cross-sectional, highlighting a single moment in people’s lives, and cannot tell whether the exercise habits directly caused differences in health or if and how genes, income, diet and similar lifestyle factors contributed.

It also did not look at muscle mass and other important measures of health or whether you can begin exercising late in life and benefit to the same extent, the report said.

The researchers plan to explore some of these issues in future studies, Dr. Trappe said in the report.

Nevertheless, the findings from experiment suggest that exercise could help “build a reserve” of good health now that might enable us to slow or evade physical frailty later, Dr. Trappe said.

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It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

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