By using this service and related content, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics, personalised content and ads.
You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Exercise really can keep your body young, study shows

Netdoctor logo Netdoctor 18/05/2017 Jenny Cook

Exercise really can keep your body young, study shows © SolStock / Getty Exercise really can keep your body young, study shows We all know that exercise is good for you internally and externally, but a new study now shows that the benefits of physical activity are so great that they have the ability to affect our bodies on a cellular level.

The research, published in Preventive Medicine, has found that the more exercise people get, the less their cells age – potentially increasing longevity and reducing the risk of chronic illness. 

The findings

Scientists looked at the telomeres (the protein caps on the end of human chromosomes that determines how old the cells in our bodies are) of approximately 6,000 adults who took part in a several-year survey run by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants were also asked what physical activities they had taken part in over the past month, and how vigorously they undertook them.

DNA samples were then taken to measure telomere length. This was done because every time a cell replicates a tiny bit of telomere is lost, meaning that they get shorter with age (ergo longer telomeres equate to younger cells). Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, explained: "We know that, in general, people with shorter telomeres die sooner and are more likely to develop many of our chronic diseases. It's not perfect, but it's a very good index of biological aging."

Watch: Research Survey Finds That Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk (by Wochit News)

Replay Video
UP NEXT
1
Cancel
UP NEXT
UP NEXT
It was concluded that top-tier exercisers (those who did the equivalent of 30-40 minutes of jogging a day for five days a week) had significantly longer telomeres than those who were sedentary – a total difference of roughly nine years of cellular ageing. 

The impact

In addition to differences in cell ageing, it was also found that people who did vigorous exercise also showed fewer signs of biological ageing by about seven years when compared to those who completed moderate levels of activity. Tucker continued: "Moderate exercise was still valuable and it had some benefit, but it was really those high levels of physical activity that made the real difference."

It is believed that telomere length may be linked to inflammation and oxidative stress – two factors which are known to be eased by exercise over time. In turn, Tucker says, this could mean that people with longer telomeres could live longer, healthier lives, although there is no concrete evidence to support this just yet.

© Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) "We all know people who seem younger than their actual age. We know exercise can help with that, and now we know that part of that may be because of its effect on our telomeres."

In addition, the research team added that more exercise seemed to equate to greater reductions in risk of chronic diseases to a certain point.

It is worth noting that this study was self-reported and was not able to account for factors like depression, stress, sleep disturbances and dietary practices that could affect exercise habits, genetic changes, or both.

Related: Painless Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

21 Painless Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Netdoctor

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon