Exercise for Younger Skin!

Monday June 30, 2014

A recent New York Times article highlighted some amazing new research that showed how exercise, even late in life, keeps skin younger and may even reverse aging in older skin. As we advance in years, we watch woefully as wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging skin become more apparent.  Because of changes in the layers of the skin, the outermost protective top layer of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, gets thicker.  It also gets drier, flakier, and denser.  The next layer down, the dermis, loses cells and elasticity and begins to thin, becoming more saggy and translucent.  These changes occur regardless of any sun damage and have everything to do with time.

After initial studies with people aged 20-84 with half being active and the other half sedentary, the comparison showed that exercise habits definitely affected the composition of the skin, regardless of age.  They then examined skin from the buttocks (no sun exposure there!) of volunteers aged 65 or older who had been sedentary. After a 3- month program of working out twice a week by jogging or cycling at a moderate level and maintaining at least 65% of their maximum aerobic capacity for 30 minutes, the results showed that the inner and outer layers of the skin looked very much like those of 20 to 40 year olds! The stratum corneum was significantly thinner and healthier, and the dermis thicker! Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and exercise science at McMaster University in Ontario oversaw the study which was presented in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.  He said “I don’t want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see”, and the volunteer’s skin under the microscope “looked like that of a much younger person, and all they had done differently was exercise”.


* Excerpted from “Younger Skin Through Exercise,” by Gretchen Reynolds.