This piece first appeared in the July issue of Competitor Magazine.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald
Most runners above a certain age conclude that exercise keeps them young. Until recently, there was surprisingly little scientific validation for this feeling. There was plenty of proof that exercise improved health, but not much evidence that it actually slowed the aging process.
Now there’s proof. A team of researchers at Canada’s McMaster University recently provided compelling evidence of exercise’s anti-aging powers in a study involving mice. Mark Tarnopolsky and colleagues discovered that vigorous aerobic exercise reduced almost all of the signs of accelerated aging—including the graying of fur—in mice genetically programmed to age faster than normal.
These benefits were traced to the mitochondria, which are microscopic power generators within cells. The accumulation of genetic mutations over time in replicating mitochondria is believed to be a major cause of aging. The mitochondria also just happen to be where muscles undergo aerobic metabolism, which increases dramatically during exercise. Somehow, the repeated activation of the mitochondria through exercise helps prevent mutations, and the graying and other effects that come with them.
Forget Just for Men and Clairol. Just keep running!