Is it just me or does Jennifer Lopez get better with age? The forty-six year old actress, singer, dancer and entrepreneur has radiant, youthful, practically age-less skin. How. Does. She. Do. It?! It could be her personal chef, access to top of the line dermatologists, facialists and luxury skin care products; but according to a study published in the prestigious science journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it’s most likely her rigorous workout routine.

The study, conducted at McMaster University in Ontario, found that exercise not only appears to keep skin younger, it may even reverse skin aging in people who start exercising later in life. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of pediatrics and medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, led two studies investigating exercise’s effects on aging. The first tested mice genetically engineered to age faster. The mice were divided into two groups: the sedentary group, and the exercise group. The exercise group ran on a treadmill three times a week for five months. The results were astounding. While the sedentary mice grew frail, ill, demented, graying or bald, the exercise group maintained healthy brains, hearts, muscles, and their fur never turned gray. Talk about a fountain of youth…

The results were exciting, but researchers wondered if they could achieve the same findings in humans. Tarnopolsky began a second study to find out. A group of sedentary volunteers aged 65 or older were rounded up. Researchers took skin samples from volunteers’ buttocks, since the area had limited sun exposure prior to the experiment. Each of the volunteers were assigned an endurance training program of working out twice a week at a moderate strenuous pace for 30 minutes. After three months, the researchers biopsied the volunteers’ buttock skin again. The samples looked markedly different. The skin samples taken after three months of exercise resembled skin samples not from 65 year olds, but from 20-40 year olds.

How exactly exercise effects the skin is not entirely clear, but researchers think certain substances created by working muscles called myokines are involved in the skin changes. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that exercise will reverse signs of skin aging from sun damage or smoking (two of the biggest contributors to aging skin), but still, it’s amazing to see the ways in which exercise benefits the body on all levels. Just another reason to hit the gym.

-by Amy Chang
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