It’s been known for a while that protecting DNA from damage slows the aging process. And working out is often said to be good for our DNA, but it hasn’t been clear exactly why – until now.
To answer this, researchers from Saarland University in Germany wanted to examine the effects of a hard workout on telomeres, the regions of DNA that sit at the ends of your chromosomes and protect them from damage, like the plastic pieces that prevent your shoelaces’ ends from fraying. The shortening of telomeres is thought to lead to the aging of cells and to limit longevity. These researchers took blood tests from two groups of elite professional athletes and two groups of healthy, nonsmoking nonexercisers. The findings were astonishing.
According to the study’s lead researcher, “The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere.”
So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: A hard workout works and slows aging because it stabilizes telomere length and stops telomeric shortening. Thus, a workout protects your DNA from damage and literally stops cellular aging. So, if you want to add years to your career in the gym and pounds of muscle to your physique, get in the gym and work like a pro! Your telomeres will thank you for it now and for years to come.
Source: Werner C, Fürster T, Widmann T, et al. Physical exercise prevents cellular senescence in circulating leukocytes and in the vessel wall. Circulation. 2009 Dec 15;120(24):2438-47.