According to new research, exercise not only keeps skin looking younger, it can reverse aging in those who start working out later in life. As reported by Gretchen Reynolds for the NY Times, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario have shown how exercise can extend the life of mice as well as keep their fur from turning gray. The researchers, seeing this noticeable affect exercise has upon mice, wondered if the same affect might hold true for human’s and their skin.

To test this possibility, the researchers gathered men and women between the ages of 20 and 80. Particpants were place in 2 categories: those who exercise frequently and those who exercise very infrequently (less than an hour per week). Then they biopsied skin samples from their buttocks (the researchers wanted skin mostly untouched by sunlight) and examined them microscopically. They found that the skin samples from those who exercised had firmer and healthier layers like the skin composition of someone much younger.

But it could not be unequivocally proven these results were due to exercise alone and not also genes and diet. So the researchers decided to take the test a step further. They biopsied skin samples from the sedentary group and set them up with a fitness plan. The volunteers were 65 and older and started the program with normal skin for their age. After three months of weekly moderate exercise, the researchers took another skin sample and compared the two.

“I don’t want to over-hype the results, but really, it was pretty remarkable to see,” says Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of exercise science at McMaster who over-saw the study. Their skin after three months of exercise looked much closer to that of 20-40 year olds.

The researchers are not entirely sure how skin is exactly affected by exercise, but their results were undeniable. Simply by increasing their level of activity, the participants were able to improve their skin’s health and even reverse aging!

Additional Resources:
Fitday’s Sweating: Why It’s Good for You
Fitness Magazine’s The Good Skin Diet
WebMD’s Skin Benefits from Exercise