The best exercise for aging muscles
There’s always been debate in the health community about what is exactly is healthy. Few people dispute the benefits of movement however.
But the type of exercise you choose does matter.
By nature, exercise stresses and challenges the body. It breaks down muscle fibers so they can grow stronger in recovery and enlarges the heart so it can pump more blood.
But if the exerciser is older and weaker, does the stress of exercise serve the same benefits or does it do some harm because an older body can’t repair itself as well?
A recent study by senior researchers at the Mayo Clinic answers that question.
The beginning hypothesis is that aging takes a toll on the body down to the cellular level. When older muscles exercise, the damage accrued by cells is especially severe. And because older muscles don’t regenerate as easily they become weaker as their energy-producing mitochondria diminish in strength and number.
The study, however, produced some surprising results and proved that you’re never too old to reap the benefits of exercise. Picking the right type of exercise is crucial because not all exercise has the same benefits.
The study was performed on 72 healthy, but sedentary, men and women who were 30 years or younger or older than 64. Baseline measures were established for all participants of aerobic fitness, blood-sugar levels, gene activity and mitochondrial health in muscle cells. Next the volunteers were randomly assigned to different exercise programs.
Some of the study participant were assigned weight training several times a week; others did brief interval training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. There was also a control group that did not exercise. The study was conducted over 12 weeks.
At the conclusion of the study lab tests were repeated to measure improvements.
It was no surprise everyone in the study improved in fitness level and blood sugar regulation. There were also expected differences between the different exercise groups. Those who lifted weights gained muscle mass and strength. Those who did interval training gained the most endurance.
The surprising results were found in the biopsied muscle cells of all the participants. It showed that some forms of exercise have different benefit for different age groups.
For example, the younger subjects who did interval training experienced a change in 274 genes, in comparison to a change in 170 genes for who exercised more moderately. The younger weight lifters only saw a change in 74 genes.
The results for the older exercisers were astounding, showing that their genes responded much more vigorously to exercise. The older group that did interval training, experiences a change in 400 genes. The older group that lifted weight only experienced a change in 33 genes and the moderate older exercisers saw a change in only 19 genes.
The genes that were effected and changed by exercise are believed to influence the
ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscles cells. The interval trainers, both young and old, showed an across the board increase in the health and number of their mitochondria. But the impact was much higher among the older interval trainers.
The study showed that the decline of cellular health that occurs as a result of aging can be improved if not reversed by interval exercise. This type of exercise alternates intense burst of effort with gentler movement focused on recovery.
The Mayo clinic study shows that older age is not an excuse to avoid exercise but rather a time in life when exercise becomes crucial.
The 21-Day Body Makeover is a full body cleanse that incorporates exercise as part of its protocol. It’s based on the belief that people of all ages can benefit from exercise and gentle cleansing to improve and prolong their quality of life.