Frequent exercise can increase a person’s lifespan, according to a study by academic researchers from the University of Mississippi and the University of California.
What is unique about this study is the investigation of the effects of exercise on the body on a cellular level. Physical activeness influences the production of telomerase, a cellular enzyme which regulates the elongation of a nucleotide sequence at the end of the DNA strand known as telomeres.
The shortening of telomeres has been scientifically linked with age due to mitosis which is the process of cellular division to promote tissue growth. The declining length of telomeres can be accelerated by physical inactivity, stress, and smoking. Accelerated shortening of telomeres can also lead to age related chronic illnesses such heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension and cognitive deterioration.
The study involved analyzing data derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in which up to 6500 participants aged between 20 to 84 years old answer questions on their health, dietary habits, and physical lifestyle. They are also required to attend a health checkup so that the researchers can obtain a blood sample for analysis on telomere length.
The answers by survey respondents is ranked using the movement based behavior (MBB) index. Simply put, for every answer that states conduct of physical activities, a point is given. The MBB index point range from 0 to 4. Each participant’s response to the survey is then correlated with their respective telomere findings. The link between these two aspects was clear. Participants who obtain MBB points from to 1 to 4 saw a significant decline in short telomere formations. The more rigorous the activity carried out, the lower the risk of aging related illnesses.
The study further indicates that participants aged between 40 and 65 show the lowest risk of telomere shortages, suggesting that middle age may be the right phase in life to practice a physical and healthy lifestyle. “Exercise is good for your cells and more exercise in greater variety is even better”, says Paul Loprinzi of University of Mississippi and co-author of this study.
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