The fear of getting older has led to a decades-long rise of anti-aging products, but those interested in slowing down the sands of time may be going about it all wrong.
In 2015, the “anti-aging market” hit $140.3 billion dollars in global sales and is expected to hit $216 billion in the next 5 years. This includes procedures such as Botox, liposuction, anti-wrinkle products and anti-stretch mark creams. The end goal of each of these items is to change someone’s outward appearance, thus making them look younger. New research is suggesting the key to hanging onto your youth lies at a much, much smaller level—the cellular level.
To slow down the aging of your cells, one need not slather on creams or drop a ton of dough on expensive (and sometimes invasive) procedures. Instead, breaking a sweat on a regular basis will do the trick. Researchers from Brigham Young University released a study, published in the journal Preventative Medicine, which showed startling differences in the chromosomal makeup of people who exercise regularly versus people who lead more sedentary lives.
The study focused on telomeres, the protein-based tips of our chromosomes which are largely linked to age. Each time our bodily cells replicate themselves, these telomeres become a little bit shorter—meaning, the shorter your telomeres, the older you are. Telomeres in highly active people were found to be much longer than less active folks—no matter the age.
Those who worked at including a high level of physical activity in their lives were found to have telomeres with a nine year biological advantage over sedentary participants and a seven year advantage over those who exercise at a moderate level. To be considered “high” physical activity, women would have to jog for 30 minutes a day (men for 40 minutes), five days a week.
The implications of the study are tough to sort out at this early stage, yet the researchers are confident their findings support a larger body of research in terms of the link between longevity and physical activity. “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,” exercise science professor Larry Tucker told Science Daily.
Now we can add this nugget of knowledge to what we already know about exercise: it instantly boosts your mood and metabolism, is beneficial for mental health, helps the body reduce inflammation and can even help with digestion. So, get out there and get moving!
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