The glass half full view on exercise is that it modestly slows aging. The glass half empty view is that being sedentary accelerates age-related decline. Our species evolved in an environment that demanded considerably more physical activity than is the case in today’s era of comfort, calories, and machineries of transportation. Lacking that activity, we suffer. There are any number of papers that provide evidence showing that a surprisingly large fraction of cardiovascular and muscle aging, loss of function and loss of strength, is preventable. Exercise can’t stop aging, but it can certainly make a meaningful difference to quality of life along the way. If it was expensive, it might not be worth it. But it is free.
Today I’ll point out a couple of open access papers that cover aspects of the effects of exercise on function and cellular biochemistry in later life. They are representative of current views on the interaction between physical activity, metabolism, and the progression of aging. As is the case for calorie restriction, one of the interesting puzzles in the matter of exercise and health is how it can manage to be beneficial and yet have a comparatively small effect