© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Primary aging is the progressive and inevitable process of bodily deterioration during adulthood. In skeletal muscle, primary aging causes defective mitochondrial energetics and reduced muscle mass. Secondary aging refers to additional deleterious structural and functional age-related changes caused by diseases and lifestyle factors. Secondary aging can exacerbate deficits in mitochondrial function and muscle mass, concomitant with the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance. Exercise opposes deleterious effects of secondary aging by preventing the decline in mitochondrial respiration, mitigating aging-related loss of muscle mass and enhancing insulin sensitivity. This review focuses on mechanisms by which exercise promotes healthy aging" by inducing modifications in skeletal muscle.