Exercise Slows the Aging Process

Physically fit people have healthier, more resilient genes. Exercise preserves gene structures called telomeres, which form the ends of the DNA strands and hold them together. Over time, the telomeres shorten, reducing their effectiveness, which triggers illness and death. Exercise prevents telomere shortening. A study led by Nobel Prize-winner Elizabeth Blackburn from the University of California, San Francisco and Paul Loprinzi from the University of Mississippi showed that people who exercised more had longer telomeres (leukocyte telomeres). The relationship was strongest during middle-aged people (40-64), which suggests that this is a critical time for remaining active. Other studies have found that overtraining shortens telomere length, so balance is the key. (Medicine Science Sports Exercise, 47: 2347–2352, 2015)

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