I recently summarized a study carried out by Brigham Young University, which identified that exercise reduced the effects of aging by up to 9 years. The study found that individuals who regularly exercised could reduce the speed of the ‘aging clock’ by exercising for 30/40 minutes, 5 days a week. These findings were reached by examining the telomere length of individuals who fell into the aforementioned exercise band. Telomere’s are found within the DNA and cap the end of the chromosomes. As we age, our telomeres get shorter and our cells become more and more compromised, such an effect makes telomere length a good biomarker for aging.
Titanovo – a company who test telomere length – recently surveyed 500 of their customers to establish some trends in relation to telomere length and lifestyle habits, including exercise and alcohol consumption.
Exercise & Telomere Findings
In Titanovo study, the company’s researchers found that the form of exercise and energy system is pivotal for telomere length preservation. The study did note profound benefits of exercise in this regard, however this particular study put the exercise type under the microscope to examine the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise and how they relate to telomere length.
Findings suggest that only anaerobic exercise positively impacts telomere length. Anaerobic exercise is classified as exercise that is carried out without the dependency of oxygen, for example weight training and sprints. In contrast to this, the other energy system investigated (aerobic exercise) does require oxygen to yield energy. The study found that aerobic training had no impact on telomere length preservation and may even decrease telomere length.
It’s suggested that the optimal exercise prescription for telomere preservation for individuals 60 years and older is 3-6 hours of anaerobic exercise each week.
Alcohol & Telomere Findings
The effects of excessive alcohol consumption have long been known to science and the general public in societies around the globe, but the findings within this study also identify the impact alcohol has at a cellular level.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that individuals who did not drink alcohol have the longest telomere length. That said, the number of days an individual drinks for seems to have no influence on the length of their telomeres. The important factor identified within the study was the impact of the volume of alcohol consumption at a given time (binge drinking) and – interestingly – beer consumption has more of a negative impact than any other form of alcohol.
The findings highlighted in the data provide valuable insight into exercise prescription for cellular preservation as we age and bring to life the necessity of maintaining a training regime that dedicates time to anaerobic exercise, which is typically something neglected as we age.
Further to this the data continues to put the spotlight on the toxic impact of binge drinking, now outlining the detriment to telomere length.