High Levels of Exercise and Slower Cellular Aging

New research has revealed how a high level of exercise can slow one type of aging. This is the kind of aging that occurs within our cells. We just have to be willing to put in some sweat equity!

Researchers at Brigham Young University have found that people who consistently perform physical activity at a high level have significantly longer telomeres when compared to those have live a sedentary lifestyle as well as those who are moderately active.

Telomeres are protein end caps on our chromosomes. The are like our biological clock and are strongly tied to aging. Every time a cell replicates, it loses a tiny bit of the end caps. As a result, the process of aging gradually shrinks or shortens our telomeres.

The team analyzed data from 5,823 adults who participated in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This survey is one of the few indexes that includes telomere length values for the study participants. The index also includes data for 62 activities participants may have participated in over a 30 day period. This data was analyzed to calculate the participant’s levels of physical activity.

The research found that adults with high physical activity levels have telomeres with a biological aging boost of nine years when compared to those who live comparably idle lifestyles. They also have a 7 year advantage compared to those who engage in moderate levels of physical activity.

In order to be considered to be a highly active person, men must engage in 40 minutes of jogging 5 days per week and women must engage in 30 minutes of jogging 5 days per week. To see a significant difference in slowing biological aging, a little exercise won’t make it. People have to work out regularly and at high levels.

The study showed that the shortest telomeres came from people who were considered sedentary. They had 140 base pairs of DNA less at the endpoints of their telomeres compared to the highly active participants. Surprisingly, the study showed that there was no significant or meaningful difference in telomere length between the participants who were sedentary and those who engaged in low or moderate physical activity.

The exact mechanism responsible for how exercise preserves the telomeres is unknown. The team believes the mechanism may be tied to the combination of oxidative stress and inflammation. Earlier studies have determined telomere length is closely tied to those two factors. And it is well known that physical activity can suppress both these factors over time.

It is well known that regular physical activity can help reduce mortality and prolong life. Now it is known that part of that advantage might be related to the preservation of telomeres that occurs with high physical activity.

To view the original scientific study click below

Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women: An NHANES investigation.