Can Exercise Really Help With Healthy, Graceful Aging?

Sofia Vergara credits exercise for her good looks. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
Sofía Vergara credits exercise for her good looks. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)

When it comes to fitness and health, some celebrities — we’re looking at you, Salma Hayek, Blake Lively, and K-Stew — say that they don’t hit the gym because they’re just genetically #blessed.

And while that sounds more like an alternative fact to us, it’s refreshing to hear other Hollywood A-listers get real about what it takes to stay in shape and age well. Case in point? Sofía Vergara said in a recent interview with Self magazine that she hits the gym so she can age like a fine wine.

“I know that [working out] does make a difference, and you can see it in the women and men that work out,” she told the publication.

“Things start to change, and I’m like, the only thing to do is go and take care of it.” This is from the woman who gave us the very apropos “No Pain, No Cake” apparel, which was sold online for only two weeks in November to help raise money for the Birthday Party Project.

But is there any scientific fact behind Vergara’s claim? We decided to take it to experts to see if we’re all doomed to take SoulCycle classes until we’re octogenarians or if there’s another way to fake youth.

“Exercise is good for you on so many different levels,” James Gladstone, MD, the co-chief of Sports Medicine Service at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital tells Yahoo Beauty.

“In terms of your muscles and skin tone, it keeps you in shape, it keeps your heart going strong, it strengthens your bones, it helps give you focus and helps your immune system too,” Gladstone says.

And yes, while you could argue that there are — ahem — certain cosmetic procedures that can help erase a frown line or banish some unwanted cellulite, there’s really no fix-all alternative that keeps you healthy inside and out.

“On a cellular level, it has do with your metabolism and the way your cells process protein and get toxins in and out,” Gladstone explains. “Basically, the more you can pump blood around your body, the more you can clear your body of toxins.”

Not only that, he says, but also sweat clears out your pores and brings fresh oxygen to your bloodstream and muscles and helps keep your metabolism high.

And there’s plenty of scientific evidence to prove that hitting that barre class or yoga session has lasting effects on your well-being. A 2013 study from Harvard Medical School found that in some cases, good old-fashioned exercise was even more beneficial than prescription drugs in preventing heart disease and diabetes.

And multiple studies from McMaster University in Ontario found that moderate exercise could stave off or even reverse signs of premature aging in mice. Their control group of sedentary rodents were found to be sicker and more frail, and they tended to go gray or bald first.

While his most freely prescribed panacea is exercise, Gladstone says that it’s hard to get his patients to be compliant.

“They just have to understand it’s part of their maintenance,” he says. “The body works as a whole, and everything has to be coordinated together. Hard work is a tough thing for a lot of people to understand.”

Although Gladstone says he doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all motivator to get us to that P90X class, he gives us this sage advice: “You may not want to work out, but if you see the benefit on the other side, hopefully that can motivate you.”

BRB, posting a picture of Sofía Vergara on our refrigerator, stat.

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