Swim­ming is the clos­est thing on this earth to a per­fect sport,” writes Dr. Jane Katz, a swim-fitness author and edu­ca­tor in NY.

And part of its per­fec­tion, accord­ing to a recent study by doc­tors at the Uni­ver­sity of Pitts­burgh, is that swim­ming and other vig­or­ous exer­cise actu­ally slows down the aging process.

The study fol­lowed 40 mas­ters triath­letes (men and women who swim, bike and run sev­eral times a week) between the ages of 40 and 81. The older par­tic­i­pants showed a remark­able lack of age-related mus­cle mass loss. In fact, the MRI scans of their bone and mus­cle den­sity look sim­i­lar to those of the 40 year olds.

What this means is that the decline of mus­cle mass and strength as we age may not be as inevitable as we have thought. In fact, the study con­cludes that decline is actu­ally a func­tion of chronic dis­use not just aging and that exer­cise is the ticket to stay­ing strong and youthful: “This main­te­nance of mus­cle mass and strength may decrease or elim­i­nate the falls, func­tional decline, and loss of inde­pen­dence that are com­monly seen in aging adults.”

So, what do you think? Are you ready now to com­mit to that daily swim?

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