Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Exercise really does slow down ageing

Your truly half way round the Abbey Dash 10k in Leeds recently running for charity. So you can see why I was delighted to unearth the following research studies which have finally proved that regular exercise can slow down the ageing process, and the reason for this can be found within the body’s white blood cells. We already know that exercising reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and now scientists have discovered that athletes and regular exercisers have longer telomeres (protective DNA at the ends of cell chromosomes) than healthy adults who are non-smokers and non-exercisers.

These telomeres protect the cells much like the coating on the ends of bootlaces prevent them fraying and unravelling, say the German researchers behind the study. Our cells divide throughout our lifetimes, with the telomeres becoming shorter each time, until they get too short to divide further – which is when the traditional signs of ageing such as loss of muscle tone, appearance of wrinkles and degeneration in our senses start to appear.

The study compared the general fitness and telomere length of athletes in their twenties with those of sedentary adults (less than 1 hour’s exercise a week) and found, not surprisingly, that the athletes had lower BMI, lower blood pressure and lower resting heart rate than the non-exercising group of the same age, as well as longer telomeres. A similar study was carried out with participants in their fifties, with similar results. So it’s official – exercise keeps you young. For longer, anyway.

So get out there and exercise!

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