Is Going To The Gym The Ultimate Anti-Aging Secret?

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yoga-woman-large Sure, you know that exercise is essential if you want to keep on zipping up those skinny jeans, and, yes, it helps prevent a whole slew of diseases that probably aren’t even on your radar just yet. But if that's not enough motivation to hit the gym, chew on this: regular exercise can help keep you looking younger. To get specific, it helps you maintain muscles mass so your arms and ass don’t get saggy; improves bone density, so you don’t turn into the Incredible Shrinking Woman down the line; and it helps to keep your skin taut. (It may even keep gray hairs at bay, too.)

Best of all, you don't need to become a triathlete to get anti-aging benefits. "Any type of movement helps," says Liz Miersch, certified trainer and editor-in-chief of Q by Equinox. "The more you sit locked in any position, the more your muscles, joints and tissues are going to age.” The key lies in our fascia, a web of tissue that holds everything—muscles, blood vessels and nerves—together. “Working out helps replenish the fascia,” Miersch adds. Think of it like this: You know how your favorite anti-aging cream works to speed up cell turnover to keep the skin on your face looking fresh and glowing? Exercise is the catalyst to increasing the speed of the turnover of your fascia.

Not all activity is created equal
While any exercise is better than sitting on your bum watching yet another episode of Homeland, it’s multi-dimensional moves, like a squat with an overhead press, that will help your body reap the most anti-aging benefits. “Neuromuscularly, two or three-part exercises recruit helper muscles and keep you moving in different ways. “There’s a hormone that’s released when we exercise that helps maintain and support muscle tissue,” explains Miersch. “The more complex and complicated the exercise, the more hormone is released.” In addition to weight lifting, running, jumping and bouncing will help keep your fascia bouncy and elastic. Weight-bearing exercises help build up your bone mass—key when you think about preventing osteoporosis and maintaining your full height throughout your lifetime. So, go ahead and sign up for that 10K or invest in a mini trampoline.

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Photo: Via Lululemon
shoes-runningPostpone your silver-fox years
As for preventing gray locks, a study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that mice who ran the human equivalent of six 10-minute miles, three times a week had healthier mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell, as you may remember from biology class). As a result, the mice had better balance, heart health, muscle tone, brain mass and less gray hair than their non-running counterparts. No, we're not mice, but those kinds of results can't be ignored.

How to get (and stay) glowing at any age
Need more proof? Staying fit literally gives skin its radiance. Face Place aesthetician Tom Woodhouse says he can see a definite difference in his clients who exercise regularly versus those who don’t. “There are no blood vessels in the top layer of our skin and exercise helps bring blood to the lower layers, helping your overall complexion,” he says. “Even with a moderate amount of exercise, my clients have more glowing skin, brighter eyes, and better muscle tone.”

Don't forget downtime
When you water a plant, you need to give it time to soak up the moisture. Similarly, you need to give your body time to soak up the benefits of exercise. Rest is necessary during and after working out; the general recommendation is five minutes of rest for every 30 minutes of exercise. You’ll also want to add stretching to your routine, which will keep your muscles long and lean. Rolling around on a foam roller is an easy and effective way to start, because it moves water around and gets proteins to the areas of your body that need recovery. And if all of this isn't motivation enough to get moving, let these three words be your mantra: high school reunion.

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Photo: Via Lululemon