Your skin is a delicate, thin layer of tissue that offers protection from outside elements, but it also happens to be very telling of age. The stratum corneum, the body’s top, the outermost layer of the epidermis, thickens after age 40. As this is taking place, the dermis, which is the skin beneath the epidermis, starts to thin. Once the skin loses its natural elasticity and healthy plumpness, it tends to sag and become more translucent. These changes, which are completely independent of sun exposure, are directly related to aging, but new research is now proving that exercise slows down aging, as moderate physical activity can reverse these age-related shifts.
In a recent study, which was conducted by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and presented at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in New Orleans, scientists grouped together 29 male and female subjects ages 20 to 84. Out of the whole group, half of the participants exercised for three hours every week, and the other half was mostly sedentary. To get a good sample of undamaged skin from test subjects, researchers chose the area of the buttocks. After close inspection under a microscope, researchers noticed that test subjects over the age of 40 who exercised regularly had healthier skin and a thicker dermis. In fact, they observed that the skin more closely resembled that of a 20 or 30-year-old individual.
Next, researchers focused on participants older than 65 to review the effects of exercise. When participants worked out twice a week for three months by jogging and cycling for 30 minutes at a time, researchers noticed that both the outer and inner skin layers looked like a 20-to 40-year-olds! Upon further inspection and analysis, researchers discovered IL-15, a specific type of myokine that reduces cellular aging had increased. Participants that exercised more in fact showed a 50 percent increase of IL-15 over the other test group.
As with any new scientific discovery, it’s important to understand that exercise is just one piece of the anti-aging puzzle. A healthy lifestyle should include other areas of importance, such as diet, genes, a stress-free mindset, and organic sources of saturated fats like the ones discussed in Dr. Salerno’s Fight Fat with Fat book. Even though an IL-15 pill is not yet on the horizon, there is no denying the powerful effects that exercise has on skin and the aging process.