There are many benefits of regular exercise, including increased energy, better sleep, blood sugar management and chronic disease prevention. And according to a new study, exercise may also slow down the aging process.
In the October 2023 study published in Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, researchers looked at how exercise affects telomere length and a process called cellular senescence.
Telomeres are like little caps at the ends of our chromosomes that protect the genetic material contained inside. You know the aglet at the end of your shoelace? It helps protect the shoelace from fraying and unraveling. Telomeres act in much the same way for your chromosomes.
Cellular senescence is a process that happens when the cells stop acting the way they’re supposed to. As we age, the telomeres tend to shorten and send out chemical signals that tell the cells to stop dividing, which in turn can cause cellular senescence. Altogether, this hastens aging.
“Aging is the greatest risk factor for the development of diseases, especially the top two killers of U.S. citizens—cardiovascular disease and cancers,” says Andrew Ludlow, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Molecular Genetics Lab at the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology and one of the study’s authors. “Telomeres are a biomarker of biological aging and are related to cardiovascular disease and cancer risk.”
The good news, though, states Ludlow—and what the evidence shows—is that exercise may help maintain telomere length. “Exercise, especially endurance exercise, is associated with longer telomeres in vascular tissues—which are related to cardiovascular disease—and in immune cells—which are related to anti-tumor immunity.”
In other words, says Ludlow, exercise can slow parts of the aging process by maintaining telomere length and in doing so, help prevent or reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer.
What Types of Exercise Can Help Slow Aging?
All types of exercise have their own advantages. As far as slowing down the aging process, Ludlow says that endurance exercise seems to top the list. And you don’t have to run marathons to get the benefits.
“Brisk walks of 30 minutes—or several shorter walks accumulating to 30 minutes—per day on all or most days of the week are likely to be sufficient to reduce the risks of [disease],” says Ludlow. “Clearly more endurance-based exercise is beneficial and evokes a greater cellular response, but a little goes a long way in reducing risks of diseases and potentially maintaining telomeres.”
Endurance exercise includes activities like walking, hiking, jogging, rowing, cycling, cross-country skiing and swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up and sustains it.
Ludlow says that in terms of intensity and duration to help prevent telomere shortening, there is less conclusive evidence to show exactly how much and for how long. But, he says that based on the available evidence, he suggests getting your heart up to at least 70 percent of your maximal heart rate (subtract your age from 220 for your maximum heart rate, then take 70 percent of that) for about 30 minutes, three to five times a week.
The Bottom Line
Any movement you enjoy is good movement and can contribute to your health in various ways. To maximize the anti-aging benefits of endurance exercise, throw in some strength training, take care of what’s stressing you out and get plenty of quality sleep. Of course, what you eat matters, too. Our New Mediterranean Diet includes lots of longevity-promoting whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts, seeds, lean protein, dairy and healthy fats.
Looking for some delicious, easy ways to eat that support healthy aging? Check out our 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan for Healthy Aging, 7-Day High-Protein Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan and 7-Day High-Protein Meal Plan for Healthy Aging.
Source : Yahoo