Working out at the gym 'may reverse ageing'

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It seems to be mostly the younger generation choosing to lift weights in the many gyms up and down the country, with most of those aged 50+ shunning this seemingly young fad for; tennis, walking, hiking, cycling and various other endurance based ‘exercise’. It appears however that the best thing they could do is actually join their sons and daughters down the gym and start lifting weights also. A new study has shown that working out at the gym can reverse the ageing process in the muscles of pensioners.

Scientists in Canada studied a group of 25 pensioners, with an average age of 70. Not only did they get stronger, but the molecular machinery powering their muscles became as active as those found in much younger people. Scientists measured gene activity in tissue from the pensioners’ thighs and compared it with samples from a group of 20- to 35-year-olds. Dr Simon Melov, at McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, said: “We were very surprised by the results.

“The fact that their genetic fingerprints reversed direction so dramatically gives credence to the value of exercise, not only to as a means of improving health, but of reversing the ageing process itself.” The participants were put through six months of resistance training (lifting weights) using standard gym equipment.

Measurements of muscle strength showed that before training, the pensioners were on average 59 per cent weaker than the young adults. Afterwards, they were only 38 per cent weaker - an improvement of almost 50 per cent. The most remarkable change was hidden in the mitochondria, which generate energy within every cell in the human body.

Studies have indicated that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in muscle loss and functional impairment seen in the elderly. They found that exercise reversed this back to levels similar to those seen in the young volunteers. Four months after the study was completed, most of the pensioners were no longer going to a gym, but carrying out simple exercises at home - yet they still had the same muscle mass. Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, another member of the team, said: “This shows that it’s never too late to start exercising and that you don’t have to spend your life pumping iron in a gym to reap benefits.”

The findings were reported in PLoS One, an online scientific journal. Now scientists want to test whether resistance training has any genetic impact on organs. They also want to investigate the effect of endurance exercise, such as running and cycling, on mitochondrial function and the process of ageing. Dr Melov said: “The vast majority of ageing studies are done in worms, fruit flies and mice, but this study was done in humans.

“It’s particularly rewarding to be able to scientifically validate something practical that people can do now to improve their health and the quality of their lives, as well as knowing that they are doing something which is actually reversing aspects of the ageing process.”

So if you’re one of those oldies who feel that going to the gym is not for you, think again. A sensible 3 day a week weight training regime, taking no longer than 45minutes, could seriously add years of health back to your life, increase muscle tone, size and strength, reduce the excess fat around your belly, increase testosterone levels, vitality and your performance in the bedroom. For the best advice on how to get into the best shape of your life, download a free copy of Zef Eisenbergs, ‘Get into shape’ guide, by far the most popular 32page book on the subject, click here for your free copy.

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