Posted by: drbinder | October 22, 2011

The Fountain of Youth

The tale of a mythical spring that brought eternal youth to anyone who drank from its spout first appeared in the Roman Empire over two-thousand years ago.  The legend grew over time until it attracted the attention of a Spanish explorer in the 1500′s named Ponce De Leon.   Even though De Leon never found the fountain, he did end up discovering something else that seems to attract the senior population: the state of Florida.  Interestingly enough, according to the US Census Bureau, Florida has the highest percentage of elderly population among all 50 states

The search for a modern day fountain of youth still exists in the labs of eager young scientist who thrive in finding ways to help humans live longer, healthier lives.  If I may say, a very noble cause.  Recent literature suggests that science is debunking many health myths that we have been taught as well.  Symptoms like vision and hearing impairment, memory loss and most notably, muscle atrophy, were all formerly considered an unavoidable attribute of “getting old”.

Muscle atrophy literally means wasting away and leads to a decrease in muscle size, strength, and function.  When muscles lose their functional ability, normal day to day activities like sitting up from bed and walking up and down stairs become increasingly difficult, even painful.

Impairment is said to begin in the 4th decade of life, dropping 1% every year, accelerating with each passing decade.  However, our new understanding of the human body tells us that muscle atrophy is not a result of just getting older, it results from lack of activity.

In a 2007 study by Simon Melov et al, researches sought out a link to resistive exercise training and apparent muscle age.  They took high powered microscopes and looked inside the cells of muscles, specifically at DNA markers that are expressed with age.  In other words, certain genes are turned on as you get older, changing the contents (proteins) and production (energy) of muscle cells.  Upon microscopic examination, this change gives muscles an apparent age.  Much like our outer appearance, our DNA can look old too.

Amazingly, after 6 months of resistance exercise, the genetic appearance of elder adult muscle cells began to dramatically revert back to the appearance of their younger counterparts in the study.  With this, they concluded that exercise reverses the aging process in your genes, and ultimately your muscle cells ability to do work… A fountain of youth.

There are two main points to grasp here, and perhaps you already know what they are. The first is, you either move it or lose it.  The second, it’s never to late to start!

Ask your health care practitioner for a fitness consult, and how you can get on track with a safe and personalized fitness strategy today!

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