Lifelong exercise protects against aging

New study shows that exercising throughout life can mitigate aging effects.

New research from Ball State University in the US has shown that lifelong exercise can prevent aging’s effect on muscles.

One of the effects of aging is chronic inflammation, which can compromise muscle mass. The study looked at the anti-inflammatory effect that exercise has on building and maintaining muscle tissue.

The study

Researchers divided the participants, all men, into three groups: young exercisers (in their 20s), old healthy non-exercisers and lifelong exercisers (both aged in their 70s).

The exercise completed was an acute exercise challenge — weight training. Each group completed three sets of ten reps at 70 per cent of their one-rep maximum (1RM).

Before and after the training intervention, researchers took measurements from each participant. This included blood tests muscle biopsies from the quadriceps muscle to measure inflammation.

The results showed that despite both older groups having a “pro-inflammatory profile within blood and muscle’, the lifelong exerciser group actually had a predominantly anti-inflammatory muscle profile.

In fact, the lifelong exercisers had a similar post-exercise gene expression to the young exercisers, meaning that their cellular ages were similar.

The non-exercising group alone showed increased pro-inflammatory factors after completing the exercise task.

In effect, this means is that lifelong exercise can prevent the inflammatory effects of aging, at least partly. The study concludes that, “Lifelong exercise may positively impact muscle health throughout aging by promoting anti-inflammation in skeletal muscle.”

These results will help to “understand the long-term benefits of exercise for avoidance of a chronic inflammatory state that may contribute to poor health and functional decline in ageing adults,” the authors said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

This is yet another study that goes to show that staying active and exercising throughout life is your best way to combat the negative effects of aging.

But it’s also important to remember that it’s never too late to start an exercise program and improve health and quality of life.


Lavin, K.M. et al. (2019.) ‘Effects of Aging and Lifelong Aerobic Exercise on Basal and Exercise-Induced Inflammation.’ Journal of Applied Physiology. 21 Nov 2019

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