We all know that exercise is good for our body, mind and soul and can see the results of this daily and throughout the years. We know that supplements aren’t the answer and that a natural diet beats the fads . We also know that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to fast ageing.
But perhaps the most critical part of ageing is telemores, protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, which naturally shorten as we age. Slowing down this shortening may be the key to slowing down cellular ageing.
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
A new German study, published in the European Heart Journal, suggests that exercise may be able to keep telomeres long. But not any exercise – it must be endurance exercise.
For 6 months, 164 participants were separated into 3 separate exercise groups: easy walking/running, interval training, and resistance circuit training of 45 minutes. Blood tests at the end of the study showed that those who did 45 minutes of continuous running experienced a spike in telomerase, an enzyme which lengthens the ends of telomeres. And once telomerase runs out, the cell dies.
Intriguingly, 45 minutes of resistance training didn’t have the same effect.
HOW DOES ENDURANCE EXERCISE PREVENT AGEING?
If we age because our telemores shorten, the key to anti-ageing is to lengthen telomeres. And that’s exactly what endurance exercise appears to do. This may be because any aerobic activity contracts blood vessels, which then releases nitric oxide which goes on to increase telomerase levels.
In fact, the study showed that endurance exercise actually reversed the shortening of telemores. And that’s even for light activity. It seems even a light jog a few times a week produced an increase in telomerase.
IS THERE ANY POINT IN CONTINUING TO LIFT WEIGHTS?
Definitely. You get a huge range of benefits from strength training so keep it part of your routine. But it is a good idea to make sure you get in some regular endurance sessions for those anti-ageing benefits. Swimming and running are great choices, or perhaps you could take advantage of any New Year enthusiasm and sign up for an endurance event. If you need extra motivation, think about those telomeres lengthening!