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You might not believe what exercise could do for your skin

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Skin aging reversed with exercise

We know exercise is anti-aging and it happens at a cellular level. But thanks to McMaster University researchers we now know it does something even better. Hitting the gym or other. preferred form of exercise can actually reverse skin aging, helping us look 20 to 30 years younger.

Could exercise replace skin care products?

And if that's not enough to convince you to get up and move more, consider this. You might be able to toss those expensive (or even not so expensive but time-consuming and potentially toxic) skin care products with more exercise.

In the small study the researchers found microscopic changes in skin occur with exercise. If you've ever been to a spa that uses magnification that shows skin damage, you know what that means.

It turns out exercise reverses what happens to our skin when we age. It could be staying active really is the "fountain of youth" that doesn't requires spending a lot of money.

Why it happens in the first place

Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and exercise science at McMaster explains why our skin sags and looks flaky as we age.

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"The dermis thins, so it gives skin a wrinkly, so of sloppy appearance,” he said. “And then the outer coating, the stratum corneum which is the outer part of the epidermis, it thickens which gives you a flakey skin as you get older as well.”

He adds exercise keeps the process from happening. The outer skin doesn't thicken and flake and and the dermal layer maintains itself to keep the skin looking youthful and plump.

The study

Tarnopolsky saw the effect "exercise as anti-aging when he studied mice genetically modified to age quickly. He compared sedentary rodents to others that exercised three times a week.

Exercise has significant benefits for the heart, brain and blood vessels that supply vital organs, but what it does for the skin was "striking," said Tarnopolsky. “It was dramatically abnormal in the aging mouse and completely protected with exercise.”

To test his theory further Tarnopolsky took human biopsies from areas of humans not exposed to the sun. He says sun exposure might undo the benefits of exercise for the skin.

Just thirty minutes of working out on an exercise bicycle three times a week showed exercise skin aging 20 to 30 years. The researchers found even if you are 65 or older you can still get healthier skin with exercise. Exercise did a remarkable job at reversing skin aging.

We already know healthy skin that is the largest body organ is a barrier to infection. Tarnopolsky wants to find out more about the benefits that come with having healthy skin. For instance, could exercise keep us looking younger, stop wrinkles and even reverse them and protect us from skin cancer too? We'll have to stay tuned to find out more.