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May 23rd, 2007

It’s Never Too Late

Exciting new research shows that Gym training can rejuvenate the muscles of older people in a way that appears to reverse the aging process. The astonished researchers found that muscle tissue actually seemed to become younger. Some 25 people with an average age of 70 took part in the study and trained at a gym. A group of younger volunteers also participated for purposes of comparison to the older participants. Not only did the older participants acquire new strength, but the molecular machinery powering their muscles became as active as that seen in people who are 35 to 50 years younger. In the first study of its kind, the Canadian scientists measured gene activity in tissue removed from the older participants’ thighs and compared it with samples from a group of 20 to 35 year olds.

Dr Simon Melov, who co-led the research at McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, said: "We were very surprised by the results of the study. We expected to see gene expressions that stayed fairly steady in the older adults. The fact that their 'genetic fingerprints' so dramatically reversed course gives credence to the value of exercise, not only as a means of improving health, but of reversing the ageing process itself."

Young and old volunteers had similar diets and levels of daily exercise, and none took medicines or had diseases that might have affected the study results. The older participants were put through six months of resistance training using standard gym equipment. Bi-weekly sessions were held, each an hour in length, which involved 30 contractions of each muscle group. Measurements of muscle strength showed that before training, the older participants were on average 59% weaker than the young adults. Afterwards, they were only 38% weaker - an improvement of almost 50%. But the most remarkable change was hidden in the mitochondria, the rod-like 'power plants' that sit within every cell and generate energy. Numerous studies have indicated that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the muscle loss and functional impairment seen in older people.

Measuring gene "expression", or activity, in the mitochondria allowed the scientists to shine a light on one of the key elements of ageing. They found that exercise reversed this genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the young volunteers.

Physical Activity is one of The Wholefood Farmacy’s 7 Principles of Health. Once again, it seems that the modern day researchers continue to discover the time honored wisdom of the ancients. Have you been to the gym lately?

As always, we are at your service,

The Wholefood Farmacy Team

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