To find the fountain of youth, lace up your walking shoes! Or get your biking, dancing, hiking, or tennis gear — and get moving. Whatever activity you choose, keep at it. You know how good you feel right after a workout (hello, endorphins!). And you probably know that regular exercise can help you manage your weight and lower your risk of chronic illnesses. But it also can slow down the process of aging itself, according to new research. When researchers compared a group of older men and women who had exercised for most of their adult lives with a group who hadn’t, they found some startling differences. Unlike the group who were not active, the life-long exercisers retained their muscle mass and strength, didn’t experience increases in body fat or cholesterol, and had the same immune-system functioning as much younger adults. In other words, the regular exercisers avoided some of the “normal” declines of aging. But here’s another way of thinking about it: Being sedentary speeds up the aging process, whereas being active is our body’s natural, normal, healthy state! You don’t have to get rid of your couch, car, and all the other trappings of modern (read: sedentary) life. But you do have to make an effort to avoid getting stuck in all those “sitters.” Start wherever you are, whether that means getting more consistent about a routine or starting from scratch. Work up to 10,000 steps a day that includes a half-hour of moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week, and work in a couple of strength-training sessions. If you start to feel an extra spring in your step, that may be exercise, turning back the clock!

Source: Properties of the vastus lateralis muscle in relation to age and physiological function in master cyclists aged 55–79 years