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!