Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exercise to Feel Young

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exercise to Feel Young

Article excerpt

People who walk, run, climb stairs, move it and shake it may look and feel 15 years younger than their sedentary friends who opt for couch cushions over exercise mats.

"At any age, you can improve your functional capacity," or the ability to perform day-to-day activities, says Dr. John Holloszy, director of the division of geriatrics and gerontology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Exercise can be surprisingly effective in reversing physical frailty in the elderly, Holloszy and his research team have found. Men and women who are 65 can look and feel 50 if they stick with an exercise program that includes both aerobic and weight-bearing exercises, he says.

"You can't reverse aging through exercise," Holloszy says, "but you can prevent or reverse" secondary aging. In other words, you can alleviate such problems as diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, which increase as people age.

There is evidence that exercise can reverse some heart-disease problems, said Vickie Nesselhauf, an exercise expert at St. Anthony's Medical Center in south St. Louis County. "The arteries can function better after a period of exercise and the right diet."

Although most people think of exercise as a way of keeping their weight down or achieving a certain look, its health benefits go beyond that, Nesselhauf says.

Researchers have found that regular exercise can lower a person's chance of developing certain cancers, help in the battle against depression, and prevent osteoporosis, the gradual loss of bone density.

That's not to minimize exercise as a form of weight control. In general, after age 45, people tend to put on weight even though they may be eating less. By exercising and revving up the metabolism, they can keep these pounds off and slow the aging of internal organs. When adults keep their weight in check, they "are able to decrease the work of the kidneys, the heart and the lungs," said Connie Huber, an exercise physiologist at DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton.

Studies have shown that regular exercise can not only add to life expectancy but that it can also improve the quality of life. …

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