BY CHRISTA SGOBBA
One of the most powerful anti-aging secrets may be right in your hands—or, to be more accurate, your feet: High levels of exercise can slow aging in your body, researchers from Brigham Young University discovered.
In the study, researchers analysed activity data from 5,823 adults over a 30-day span and measured the lengths of their telomeres—the caps at the end of our DNA that protect our chromosomes. Telomeres shorten with aging, and shorter telomeres have been linked to cancer and other health risks.
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The researchers discovered that people who were most active—the equivalent of jogging for 40 minutes five days per week—had significantly longer telomeres than those who were sedentary or moderately active.
In fact, that equated to 9 fewer years of biological aging when compared to the sedentary folks, and 7 fewer years of aging in comparison to moderately active people.
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“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” study author Larry Tucker, Ph.D., said in a press release. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”
The researchers aren’t exactly sure how regular exercise helps preserve the integrity of your telomeres, but it may be because it helps tamp down inflammation, which has been shown to shorten the DNA end caps, he says.