It Makes You Feel So Young
Could exercise be the source of that elusive fountain of youth?
Consider this: Just six months of moderate physical activity may help turn back the clock as much as 30 years, according to the results of a recent, albeit small, study.
In 1966, researchers tested the aerobic capacity of five healthy 20-year-olds after three weeks of total body rest.
Fast-forward 30 years to 1996. These same five men, now middle-aged, took part in a program of moderate exercise, one hour, four to five times per week.
Before beginning the program, participants' weight, body fat and aerobic capacity were measured, and the results were not good.
Over the years, average weight had climbed an average of 25 percent while body fat doubled and aerobic capacity had declined by 11 percent.
Remarkably, 30 years had done less harm to participants' aerobic capacities than had the three weeks of bed rest in 1966.
But the best news is that after six months, the men had regained the cardiovascular fitness levels they had enjoyed as 20-year-olds, increasing their aerobic capacity by an average of 15 percent.
''This study clearly provides evidence that even an older person who has failed to maintain fitness over time can benefit from an exercise program,'' said Dr. Benjamin Levine, associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a joint venture between UT Southwestern and Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.
''Starting an exercise program when you are older is still useful and can combat the effects of aging. Moreover, if you stop exercise, you can lose what you have gained relatively quickly,'' explained Levine, who co-authored the study.
Therefore, exercise must be a lifelong health
habit - like brushing your teeth or taking a shower - that can and should be sustained throughout life.''
Source: Circulation, 2001; 104, 1350-1357
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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