Study shows that exercise can slow the aging process.

Study shows that exercise can slow the aging process.

Posted by Annemaria Duran on Dec 4th 2015

Study shows that exercise can slow the aging process. 

Study shows that exercise can slow the aging process.

A recent study that was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported what researchers from two universities found in regards to exercise and the correlation of the health of your telomeres. Researchers from the University of Mississippi and the University of California, San Francisco conducted a broad study that assessed the relationship between exercise and the aging process of the telomeres.

Telomeres are the protected ends of the cells, specifically the chromosomes. You can think of telomere like the cotton on a Q-tip. As the cells of the body age, the telomeres become shorter and more frayed. This is reflected in the aging process. Grey hair, wrinkles, and memory loss are only the symptoms of aging. True aging occurs on a cellular level.

For this study, researchers took data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Every year tens of thousands of adults complete a survey, an in-person health exam, and provide a blood sample. The study asks participants four broad questions about any physical activity that they have had in the last month. Researchers gathered data from 6,500 adults who ranged in age from 20 to 84 yrs old and divided them into categories based on their level of physical activity. If the participants have participated at least once to weight training, walking, running, or bicycle riding, then they earn a point for each of those items. For each of the four points that the participants earned, their telomeres were found to increase on average. These scores were compared with the blood samples of the individuals. The study found that the more exercise they participated in, the longer and healthier their telomeres were.

  1. Have you participated at least once in the last month in weight training?
  2. Have you participated in any moderate exercise, such as walking this month?
  3. Have you participated in any vigorous exercise like running in the last month?
  4. In the last month, have you walked or biked to work?  

One important thing to note is that this study didn’t ask about the frequency of exercise. It only asked about the types of exercise and if the person has participated at least once in the last month. Even so, the study found that those who participated in 2 activities were 29% less likely to have short telomeres and those who participated in 4 types of activities were 59% more likely to have longer telomeres.

This is a great study to increase our understanding of exercise and aging. Another study also done by the University of California, San Francisco in 2010 found that lifestyle changes, including exercise can actually lengthen the telomeres.

Just remember, the greater your level of physical activity, the longer your telomere will be and the younger your cellular health will be. This is another benefit to exercise and be healthier!