No matter how hard they try, science has never been able to prevent us humans from getting older. No anti-aging cream or miracle liquid can stop us from eventually referring to our 20s as ‘a long time ago’. However, new research has shown that being physically active may be able to slow down one type of aging: the type that happens inside your cells.
Results published in the medical journal Preventive Medicine found that highly active people have significantly longer telomeres than those who lead sedentary or moderately active lifestyles. Great! But what does it mean?
Telomeres are the protein endcaps of our chromosomes, our DNA. Each time a cell replicates, which happens as we age, we lose part of the endcaps. Basically, your biological clock ticks away in the form of cells duplicating.
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If you think that a few extra sets on your weekly gym trip will make a difference, exercise science professor Larry Tucker tells us otherwise.
“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” Larry said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”
The study found that adults with a high physical activity levels have a biological aging advantage of nine years compared to those who are sedentary and seven years compared to the moderately active. The study defines ‘highly active’ as women who jogs five days a week for 30 minutes (40 minutes for men).
There hasn’t been a conclusion as to how exercise preserves telomeres, Larry said it may be tied to inflammation and oxidative stress.
“We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life, and now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres,” Larry said.
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