As we age our skin chances, the outer stratum corneum thickens and the underlying epidermis thins. With each passing year youthful, plump, glowing skin becomes drier, flakier and denser. But according to McMaster university researchers you don’t have to say goodbye to your youthful complexion; you just have to exercise for a few hours a week.
Previously McMaster scientists found mice that were bred to age prematurely could reverse signs of ageing with exercise. The mice that were inactive became frail, ill, demented, grey haired or bald. However, the physically active mice had healthy brains, hearts, muscles, organs, and thick non grey fur. The majority of us are no longer sporting Neanderthal hair but the researchers believed humans would experience a similar effect with their skin.
To test their theory researchers split 29 male and female volunteer into two groups; one group participated in exercise for 3 hours or more, the other for 1 hour or less. The volunteers had to place themselves in a rather compromising position all in the name of science. They exposed their buttocks in order to have a skin biopsy. Why that particular area? “We wanted to examine skin that had not been frequently exposed to the sun” said Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of paediatrics exercise science at McMaster University.
The skin samples were microscopically examined and compared on an age basis. Those who frequently exercised had a thinner, healthier outer skin layer and a thicker inner layer, meaning their skin resembled that of a younger person. However, the researchers realised the volunteers youthful skin may have been down to other factors such as: diet, lifestyle and genetics rather than exercise.
To resolve this issue a third study was carried out. Sedentary volunteers aged 65 years and older with normal skin for their age underwent a biopsy before embarking on an exercise regime for three months. Their skin was once again biopsied. The researchers found that the volunteers skin composition had dramatically changed and “looked like that of a much younger person” despite the fact that “all they had done differently was exercise”. Dr, Tarnopolsky went on to describe the findings as “remarkable to see”.
Just how exercise influences the way our skin looks isn’t clear, but it is suspected that substrates called myokines play a role. Exercise releases myokine IL-15 into the bloodstream and causes cellular changes. After 3 months of exercise the volunteers showed a 50% increase in myokine IL-15.
Since it is highly unlikely that a myokine supplement will be on the supermarket shelves any time soon, we suggest you get moving if you wish to preserve your youthful good looks.
BUT if you workout outside you should wear sunscreen with a minimum factor of 15, because no amount of exercise can reverse sun damage!