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Wounds Heal 25% Faster In Older Adults Who Exercise Regularly

s aerobic fitness level by measuring how much oxygen he or she consumed while working out.

Saliva samples of each participant were also collected in order to measure levels of cortisol, a primary stress hormone. High cortisol levels indicate that the body is under stress; prior studies have suggested that exercise is associated with lower levels cortisol.

Lastly, each subject completed a questionnaire called the Perceived Stress Scale. This scale let the researchers determine how stressful the respondents perceived their lives to be.

At the end of the study, researchers found that skin wounds healed an average of 10 days faster in the people who exercised (29 days in the exercise group vs. 39 days in the non-exercise group.)

Not surprisingly, exercise endurance increased in the group that worked out, but remained the same in the non-exercise group.

The researchers were somewhat surprised to find a sharp increase in cortisol levels in the exercise group. The hormone is typically boosted by stress, and other studies have suggested that exercise may lower levels of stress.

"The stress of exercise may enhance the regulation of cortisol," Emery said. "This increase in cortisol levels may represent a biological pathway by which exercise helps wounds heal."

The current study supports the results of a related study on wound healing conducted at Ohio State a few years ago. That work compared wound-healing rates between older adults caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease to rates of older adults who weren't caregivers.

The healing rates of those who weren't caregivers was similar to the healing rates of the non-exercisers in the current studying - wounds in both groups healed in about 40 days. Wounds among older caregivers took about 20 percent longer to completely heal.

"The findings from both studies indicate that the effect of exercise we found in the current study truly repres
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