One of the most researched topics in science is the benefits of exercise. Everyone knows it and many people use this information to their attain self-betterment and pro-actively dedicate time out of their day to exercise.
Common perception of the benefits of exercise and the facts are aligned: weight loss, reduce risk of diabetes, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease etc etc!
Another profound benefits of exercise, closely associated to the benefits above, is the impact it has on aging.
The latest research into exercise and aging has come from Brigham Young University who have highlighted that high levels of exercise can reduce the ‘aging clock’ by 9 years at cellular level.
The study, which was published in the journal of Preventive Medicine, examined telomere length of individuals who were highly active, compared with those who were moderately active and sedentary.
What are telomeres?
Telomeres are the protein endcaps found at the end of chromosomes. Telomeres are closely linked with our biological age, because whenever DNA replicates, we lose a tiny fraction of our telomere length. Telomeres play an essential role in the healthy replication of cells. If cells don’t replicate correctly, it bleeds through to and damages cells.
Back to the study
The study examined data from over 5,000 adults who took part in National Health and Nutrition surveys.
One variable examined from this survey was participant telomere length, as well as quantifiable exercise participation rates over a 30 day period.
The findings from the study suggest that those who were sedentary had the shortest telomere length. The study also found there wasn’t a huge variation in telomere length between sedentary individuals and those who were moderately active. The real exercise benefits on telomere length were noted in those who were highly active. Highly active individuals had 140 more base pairs of DNA at the telomere cap compared to those who were sedentary, equating to 9 years in time!
To fall into the ‘highly active’ category, subjects had to be jogging 30 minutes per day (women) and 40 minutes (men), 5 days each week.
The preservation mechanics of exercise on telomere length aren’t completely known, however it’s suggested that regular exercise contributes to the management of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are factors in cellular preservation.