More Proof That Exercise is the Fountain of Youth

Exploring Intensity

Crystal structure of parallel quadruplexes from human telomeric DNA.

More Proof That Exercise is the Fountain of Youth

A new study that looked at how our cells age with and without exercise shows that exercise is the key to staying young.

There is, we have now discovered, a massive survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which involves questioning tens of thousands of people, giving them a health exam and drawing their blood. It’s a good way to gain a ton of data from a thousands of people.

Researchers took 6,500 of these people who ranged from barely over 18 all the way up to 84 years old. They compared the subjects’ answers on their exercise with the length of their telomeres. What are telomeres? This article describes them as being like the plastic at the end of shoelaces. Telomeres are on the ends of cells and their shortening and deterioration seems to signal the aging of those cells and, consequently, the body.

And those who exercised the most, you guessed it, had the longest telomeres. And this was especially noticeable in middle age, from 40 to 65.

So what does this mean? Well, there is a solid correlation, but no direct causation and the researchers weren’t able to say how much exercise exactly can keep those telomeres from shrinking. But there is little doubt that the people who are exercising in middle age and beyond have impressively long telomeres and that means that their cells, and their bodies, are fighting off the aging process much better than those who warming their couches.

(Photo of a crystal structure of parallel quadruplexes from human telomeric DNA, courtesy of Wikipedia under Creative Commons)