Alert
Close

Last chance – give now. Before 2014 ends, help struggling seniors. Donate

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP REALPAD

Introducing RealPad by AARP

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Exercise: A Fountain of Youth

Regular physical activity can help slow — and even reverse — the effects of aging.

Fat2Fit: Foundation of youth

— Getty Images

Raise your hand if you’d like to age successfully — that is, without acquiring a chronic disease, losing precious memory, gaining a few surplus pounds or suffering diminished mobility.

With aging, the best defense is a good offense. And if the latest research is to be believed, the most effective offense against the downside of aging is exercise.

Understanding the impact of exercise on aging cells is the first step. A study published in the January 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine confirmed the beneficial impact of exercise at the cellular level.  

The London-based study was based on the observation that telomeres (regions of repetitive DNA at the end of a chromosome) in white blood cells erode and shorten during the aging process. Thus their length and quality are biological indicators of human aging, sort of an internal lifeline. Researchers compared the length and quality of the telomeres in 1,200 sets of twins; within each set, one twin exercised regularly and the other was sedentary.

Researchers found that the longer, healthier telomeres of the active twin indicated a younger biological age — sometimes by as much as nine years — when compared to the biological age indicated by the shorter, degraded telomeres of the sedentary twin.

Our brains may benefit from exercise as well. Dr. Waneen Spirduso, author of Exercise and Its Mediating Effects on Cognition, argues that exercise improves mental functions such as recall, learning and abstract reasoning. Exercise may even help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

No one is more enthusiastic about the neurological benefits of exercise than Harvard University professor and psychiatrist John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. In a Los Angeles Times article, Ratey claims that aerobic exercise can delay cognitive decline by as much as seven to 10 years. Furthermore, because “exercise creates neuron growth,” Ratey calls exercise “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” He believes that exercise is the single best tool we have for keeping our brain functioning at its highest level.

So the elusive fountain of youth may turn out to be a foundation for youth — one built simply on regular, consistent exercise. Indeed, the evidence is so compelling that I’m turning off the computer and heading outside for a walk.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Grandson (8-9) whispering to grandfather, close-up

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

member benefits adt companion

Members save on new installation of a ADT Companion Service® personal emergency response system.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points