We live in a world full of instant fixes. Usually these fixes come in bottles, foods, lotions or other simple-to-use choices and can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred. But one fix doesn’t come in a bottle – and it solves SO much more than you would think.

When you think about getting in shape, some typical goals come to mind:

  • Losing weight
  • Gaining strength
  • Getting muscle tone

…In other words, you’re trying to make yourself feel better and look better. But are a trimmer belly and firmer arms the only appearance considerations? Not exactly.

Getting fit makes you look younger, too. And that’s not just speculation – it’s scientifically founded fact.

Blood Flow Promotes Healther Skin

The single biggest and most difficult to address factor in your perceived age is your skin. And nothing promotes healthier, firmer, more vibrant skin than good circulation. Ellen Marmur, MD, author of Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine said, “We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant.”

Blood by its’ nature carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The more access these nutrients have to your skin, the better it will maintain a youthful sheen and elasticity. And while this does not in itself “detoxify” your skin, blood also performs the key function of removing toxins and waste products, to be filtered out and disposed of via the liver.

Exercise Reduces Stress

Stress can affect your body in numerous ways. From heart health to simple acne, stress has been shown to have a direct influence on virtually every system in our bodies. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “I’m not that old, I’m just high mileage,” you can certainly identify the aging affect stress has on us.

Regular exercise however, has been shown to reduce stress and depression. Studies have even shown that regular exercise can not only decrease or eliminate mild depression – but a study published in 1999 showed that people who maintained a regular exercise regimen were significantly less likely to relapse.

You’re Only As Young As You Feel

When your mind is sharp, you feel more engaged and in tune with the world. Know someone who is moving up in years, but remains “sharp as a tack” and just seems young at heart? A study perfomed by the University of Cambrige has shown that you are more likely to maintain (and often improve upon) the performance of the memory center of your brain (the hippocampus) by engaging in regular exercise. Further, blood flow again is crucial, as improved blood flow will help to prevent buildup of nasty items like amyloid-beta proteins – which have been linked to alzheimer’s disease!

Bone Health Matters

A prime factor in your age perception is found in how you move about and hold yourself. Much of this naturally has to do with your musculature and all-around fitness – but that itself relies on your bone structure and mass. As your muscles move, build and grow, your bones (being attached directly to your muscles) do the same. Research has shown that resistance exercise can directly increase your bone mass in vital areas like the spine and hips – places we commonly begin to have problems as we grow older.

More recently, it has also come to light that our bone structure actively changes as we age. As the craft of plastic surgery has matured, it has been found that the muscle and skin layers are only part of the aging picture. Some of the changes in how we look come from our bones changing – be that in the way of strengthening, distorting, or simply shrinking away.

There Is No Such Thing As An Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Wrinkles are a huge industry today. Everybody gets them, and nobody wants them. But where do they come from?

Wrinkles occur as elastin in our skin breaks down and affects like gravity, sun exposure and pollution take their toll on our skin. Participating in aerobic exercise increases bloodflow which naturally helps the skin heal itself, as described above. But there’s another factor to wrinkles that bears just as large a role.

Wrinkles also tend to show up when our weight fluctuates. Anyone who’s lost a significant amount of weight will testify – the skin has stretched, and it does not like to unstretch easily. The best way to prevent this is to avoid stretching it out in the first place. And while some stretching is unavoidable (i.e. pregnancy), the best way to keep from adding unnecessary wrinkles to any part of your body is to stay fit.

Further still, remember how exercise reduces stress? Take a good look at someone with more than a few years under their belt who always just seems happy. They’ll have some wrinkles, yes… But notice what kind of wrinkles. You can always tell which wrinkles come from constant frowning and stress – and which ones come from laughter, an a positive attitude on life. And make no mistake – that difference will melt years from your perceived age.

To Sum It All Up

In closing... Maintaining regular exercise can reduce the effects of aging in all kinds of proven, scientific ways. The anti-wrinkle serums and creams you see everywhere on TV? Not so much.

Which one will you try next?