Facing Up to the Facts: New Images Show How Exercise Affects Aging
The above trio of photos shows, from left to right, 43-year-old Catherine Duffy as she appears now, what she could look like in 20 years if she continues to exercise and what she could look like in 20 years if she adopts a sedentary lifestyle. [More photos below.]
Credit: University of St. Andrews

Perhaps more of us would get off the couch and onto the treadmill if we were faced with images of the difference exercising may make in our appearance in 20 years.

Some study participants now have such pictures to motivate them: Researchers from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland released images of three people this week, projecting how they'll look in 20 years if they exercise, and how they'll look if they don't.

The imaging technology, which has been developed over the last 15 years, used mathematical models to predict how the shape, color and texture of the face change in those who don't exercise regularly, researcher Ross Whitehead said. [Images: Photos of the technologically aged study participants ]

This trio shows Lisa Thompson, from left to right, as she appears now, how she may appear in 10 years if she exercises and how she may appear in 10 years if she does not exercise.
This trio shows Lisa Thompson, from left to right, as she appears now, how she may appear in 10 years if she exercises and how she may appear in 10 years if she does not exercise.
Credit: University of St. Andrews

This trio shows Richard McIntosh, as he appears now, how he may appear in five years if he exercises, and how he may appear in five years if he doesn't exercise.
This trio shows Richard McIntosh, as he appears now, how he may appear in five years if he exercises, and how he may appear in five years if he doesn't exercise.
Credit: University of St. Andrews

The researchers defined regular exercise as 30 minutes of moderate activity, five times a week.

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"Weight gain is the main impact of no exercise, rather intuitively, but we also took into account various factors that affect skin quality," Whitehead told MyHealthNewsDaily. "This technique can be applied to any factor that affects facial appearance, (and) we looked at the impact of exercise."

The aim of the study was to show how an active lifestyle can improve appearance as well as health, Whitehead said. The process took into account the average annual weight gain that occurs with aging about 1