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Ask Tufts Experts November 2012 Issue

Q: I read some years ago that one of the “biomarkers” of healthy aging was tolerance to hot and cold temperatures. I no longer hear about that, and wonder if this is still considered an important indicator?

Answer :  You’re recalling the book Biomarkers: The 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control by Tufts’ William Evans, PhD, and Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD. Dr. Rosenberg, who is the editor of the Health & Nutrition Letter, says, “Yes, we still consider that exercise enhances the capacity for thermoregulation, which declines somewhat with age. As an older person, you have a reduced sensation of thirst and a lessened ability to sweat and shiver. While exercise probably won’t alter your thirst mechanism for the better, it may still reduce your risk for dehydration injuries. Staying in shape, no matter what your age, helps you adjust to the heat.” That’s because people who exercise have higher total body water content, sweat more when they work out in the heat, and lose fewer electrolytes.

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