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How Muscles Age and How Exercise Can Slow Aging

It’s no secret that exercise is good for your health. In fact, you may already be aware that exercise can actively combat the effects of aging and help you stay in good health throughout your life. However, you may not know exactly why exercise is so critical to healthy aging. Furthermore, you may be unsure about what type of exercise is going to provide the most benefit.

In this video on exercise and aging, I look at a paper published in the Journal of Cell Metabolism titled Exercise Promotes Healthy Aging of the Skeletal Muscle. In this article, researchers detail their findings on how exactly exercise disrupts the aging process.

Primary vs. Secondary Aging

One of the key takeaways from this article was that we must look at both primary and secondary aging of the body. Primary aging is simply what happens to the body over time. These changes are unpreventable. Secondary aging is the key area of focus for preventive care, including establishing an exercise routine. Secondary aging is what results from disease and inflammation. It is also what causes more of the degenerative damage seen in the musculoskeletal system as we get older.

Factors in Aging

Since we understand that secondary aging is rooted in disease and inflammation, we must examine where exercise can impact these factors. Metabolic disease is a large area of focus here. This type of disease includes many obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension. Exercise is beneficial in managing and preventing these conditions, because it reduces insulin resistance in the body. Additionally, strength and resistance training to build muscle mass helps the body actively absorb glucose.

Another key takeaway from Exercise Promotes Healthy Aging of the Skeletal Muscle is the role of mitochondria in the development of different types of diseases and illnesses. Mitochondria are the energy producers in cells, and the loss of mitochondria is responsible for many different types of disease in the body. However, exercise counteracts mitochondrial damage, so it can help the body better defend itself.

Exercise Recommendations

Researchers identified that 3-5 weekly exercise sessions is the recommended guideline for healthy aging. These sessions should mix both aerobic and resistance training for optimal benefits. In individuals over age 75, exercise does have less of an effect on the body. Still, it is beneficial. However, for the highest impact on the aging process, you should establish a healthy exercise routine much earlier in life.