Exercise And Aging: A Qualitative Correlation

2923 words - 12 pages

EXERCISE AND AGING: A Qualitative CorrelationIn 1523 the Spanish explorer and conquistador Ponce de Leon went searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth. What he discovered was Florida; not quite the quick-fix of a magical substance flowing from a fountain but a nice place for frozen northeastern residents to go for recreation in the winter. The idea of mythical youth is still very much alive in our culture and most noticeable in the advertising that surrounds us. But beyond the youthful look presented us, we desire to actually be youthful & #8212; to act and feel youthful & #8212; to feel like eighteen again (or at least twenty-five). This is one of the ironies of life. Throughout childhood you can't wait to be an adult. Then, once you've been an adult for a while, you'd do anything to be young again. Physical exercise is one "anything" a person can do to not only feel young but to physiologically slow the aging process.This paper will present studies indicating the affect exercise has on the human body and how it is useful in keeping us at our optimum physical and mental health. For now, aging is inevitable. Physiologically, we age because individual cells are preprogrammed to overwork and then self-destruct. The process becomes apparent in a comparison of old and young skin cells. Although both types contain the same array of genes, in older cells the genes work overtime under the direction of a master gene. The master gene forces the others to produce abnormal amounts of protein, which slows down replication and other vital cellular activity. These factors eventually cause organ degeneration and aging.To prevent or delay aging a way must be found to control overactive genes, say Dr. Samuel Goldstein of the University of Arkansas and Anna McCormick, Ph.D. of the National Institute on Aging. The ultimate anti-aging discovery would be a drug that could suppress the master gene, stopping cells from beginning their destructive course. Until this discovery (and well after) our anti-aging bullet can be exercise. Exercise is the closest thing to an anti-aging pill there is, says Alex Leif, M.D., a professor at the Harvard Medical School of Gerontology. "Regular daily physical activity has been a way of life for virtually ever person who has reached the age of 100 in sound condition." Studies at the National Institute of Aging have repeatedly shown that regular exercise and strength training can have a profound effect on the rate of human aging, and may forestall the disability and diseases we are used to thinking of as the unavoidable price of growing old.One method of exercise is called strength raining attained by muscle resistance movements such as those provide by the simple use of free weights. Dr. Evans, of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, conducted an unorthodox study that included putting 90-year-olds through an intensive weight-lifting regimen & #8212; a practice doctors once thought would...

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