Intense exercise keeps us molecularly young

by Christina on December 2, 2009

I was excited to see this article on the study that’s about to come out in the Dec. 15 issue of Circulation.

The study compared telomere length in runners versus non-runners, finding that runners have cells with longer telomeres. Longer telomeres mean molecular youthfulness because as cells age, our telomeres (the DNA at the ends of our chromosomes) get shorter. The theory is that if we can stop this telomere shortening, we can slow down the aging process. They showed that professional athletes who run ~50 miles/week have telomeres the length of non-exercisers who are 10 years younger!

I can’t wait to see the paper when it comes out. I’m also curious about people who don’t currently exercise — if they change their lifestyle and start exercising, what happens to their telomeres then? I wonder what length of time and type of exercise is needed to start seeing molecular changes.

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