New research claims that those who exercise just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can slow down the aging of cells by nine years. The workouts have to be high intensity for the effect to be strong enough, researchers say.
Women, they found, need to jog for up to 30 minutes a day for five days a week to slow down cell aging. For men, it’s 40 minutes. It could even stave off the onset of wrinkles and graying hair.
According to the study of Brigham Young University, people who engage in elevated levels of physical activity on a regular basis have “significantly longer” telomeres than people who exercise moderately or not at all.
Telomeres are structures of DNA-protein found at both ends of each chromosome. We lose small portions of the endcaps every time a cell replicates, as we age, our telomeres shorten.
Adults who engage in high levels of physical activity possess telomeres with biological ages that are nine years younger than people who don’t exercise and seven years younger than people who exercise moderately.
“Just because you’re 40, doesn’t mean you’re 40-years-old biologically,” said Exercise Science Professor Larry Tucker. “We all know people that seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological aging takes place in our bodies.”
“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” Tucker said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”
Researchers are still investigating exactly how exercise preserves telomeres, but Tucker believes it may be linked to a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress.
“We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life, and now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres,” he said.
The study was published in the medical journal Preventive Medicine.