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High Levels of Exercise Could Slow Cellular Ageing by 9 Years

Posted on 24 February 2020

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We all age at different rates: a person’s biological age may be older or younger than their chronological age. Identifying the markers of biological age, finding ways to measure them and, potentially, to control them, has been one of the major challenges in the study of ageing.

One such marker of biological age is telomere length. Telomeres are DNA sequences that cap the ends of chromosomes, and become shorter every time the cell divides. Eventually, telomeres become shortened so much that the cell can no longer replicate and becomes senescent. Lifestyle factors affect the rate at which this occurs.

Estébanez, B., Rodriguez-Miguelez, P., Fernandez-Gonzalo, R., González-Gallego, J., & Cuevas, M. (2019). Beneficial effect of physical exercise on telomere length and aging, and genetics of aging-associated noncommunicable diseases. Sports, Exercise, And Nutritional Genomics, 509-538. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-816193-7.00022-1

One way of preserving telomere length is exercise. Research published in 2017 found that a high level of physical activity was associated with a telomere age advantage of 9 years over those who were sedentary. Moderate activity, on the other hand, gave an advantage of only two years. 30 minutes of jogging per day for women, or 40 minutes for men, for five days a week was considered to be a high level of activity.

If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it. You have to work out regularly at high levels.

Professor Larry A. Tucker

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

    High levels of exercise linked to nine years of less aging at the cellular level:

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