New research on living longer may show the key to slowing the aging process. One’s biological and chronological ages aren’t necessarily the same. And while there’s no stopping time, there is growing evidence that lifestyle and environmental factors can slow aging and impact biological age. One promising area of research is the connection between telomere length, aging, and lifestyle choices, such as exercise.
What is a telomere?
Telomeres, the little protective end caps at the end of your chromosomes, are biological markers of aging, living longer and overall health. Each time a cell replicates, the telomere gets shorter. So, as you age, inevitably your telomeres get shorter and your cells gradually deteriorate.
But how does one explain the 80-year-old person whose biological age is 60? Similarly, there are 60 year olds who are more like 80 year olds. Of course, this is partly due to heredity. But there’s growing evidence that biological age is linked to telomere length. This exciting area of research is growing. However, a few recent studies clearly found an association between exercise and shortened telomere length.
Exercise Variety Associated with Shorter Telomeres and the Aging Process
In a 2015 study, researchers found people who exercised more were less likely to have shorter telomeres, a sign of aging. The most interesting finding was people who performed…
- 2 types of exercise were 24 percent less likely to have shorter telomeres.
- 3 types of exercise were 29 percent less likely to have shorter telomeres.
- 4 types of exercise were 59 percent less likely to have very short telomerees.
A Brigham Young University study published in Preventive Medicine in 2017 found that vigorous exercise, such as running at least 30 minutes most days of the week – can lengthen telomeres quite a bit. In fact, the adults in the study who exercised at this level experienced a nine-year aging advantage over sedentary adults.
Longer Telomeres Linked to Living Longer
There is still much research to do in this area to learn exactly what the connection is between telomere length, disease and the aging process. But the findings thus far have shown that longer telomeres equate to longer lives. Furthermore, exercise appears to play some role in the equation. Regardless of the exact influence exercise has on telomere length and whether it can slow the aging process, there’s ample research that proves exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
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