Why Exercising as You Age Becomes More Important and Challenging

A biological process called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which boosts muscles, begins to fail with advancing age. This leads to a need for increased effort to achieve the same effects from exercise, and could help explain the link between aging and type 2 diabetes.

AMPK stimulates the body to burn off fat by producing mitochondria, the power sources of cells. The skeletal muscles of athletes have been found to contain a much higher number of mitochondria, which is likely linked to AMPK activity.

When scientists compared the skeletal muscle of 3-month-old rats and 2-year-olds, they found that AMPK was significantly slowed down in older animals. In addition, the muscle of young rats who did more exercise had double the normal AMPK activity, but this effect was not nearly as strong in older rats.

Older people have more fat in their muscles and livers than younger people do. These fat cells have been linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Ever wondered why it"s harder to achieve the same benefits of exercise today as you did when you were younger? Chalk it up to a process called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) that slows down as one gets older.

Nevertheless, one of the absolute most important physical things you can do is to have a regular exercise program. I have had one for 40 years and I plan on continuing it for at least another 40.

Exericse is an amazing tool and a study I ran recently showed that seniors who participated in a regular exercise regimen -- one of the keys to optimizing your health -- outperformed younger patients, so you still have no excuse not to exercise.

This is despite the AMPK protein. So don"t get discouraged by new science stories that will give you an excuse not to exercise.

Folks, the hardest part of exercise isn"t doing it: It"s getting started. That"s why I urge you to review my beginner"s exercise page and some of the excellent articles I"ve posted by Paul Chek and Ben Lerner to get moving today.

The other important concept that will eliminate any chance you may be touched by type 2 diabetes in the future: a nutritious diet (ideally based on your body"s unique nutritional type) should be combined with exercise to confer the greatest benefits to your health.

On Vital Votes, Andrew from Mentor, Oklahoma says:

"My wife is type two diabetic and I have atrial fibrillation. Five years ago we started watching our diet and joined an exercise program. My doctor cannot figure out how I have remained so active without pills he would like me to be on.

"The wife gets the same story from her doctor. I really wonder if doctors understand anything about proper nutrition and exercise."

Other responses to this article can be viewed at Vital Votes, and you can add your own thoughts or vote on comments by first registering at Vital Votes.

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