Thursday, 11 May 2017

How Much Exercise Reverses Aging By How Many Years?

In the latest round of "alternative facts" to come out of the current US government, Donald Trump has stated that exercise is harmful, because he believes that people are like batteries: born with a finite amount of energy. His belief that exercise kills you has come out just in time for a new study, which like many others, helps to confirm that exercise is one of the most practical antiaging treatments we have.

Source: Kyle Cassidy
You and other thinking people may have noticed by now that people just don't age as fast as they used to. Even centenarians, those who have lived past 100, are noted to be increasingly active and engaged, as well as increasing in number. At Tucson Medical Center's Salute to Centenarians event, some attendees exercised at least several times a week, do paid work and even live on their own. So much of this is caused by better knowledge of what makes up a healthy lifestyle, including exercise. But how much of an antiaging effect does exercise have, and what amount of exercise is needed to achieve this? Exercise science professor Larry Tucker's study on around 6000 adults, published in Preventative Medicine, found that "regular exercise at high intensity" could take nine years off your biological age! This level of exercise, by the way, is the equivalent of running 30 minutes for women, and 40 minutes for men, five days a week. However, people who only did low to moderate intensity exercise were no younger (in a biological sense) than those who did not exercise at all. My guess is that this level of exercise still has benefits, but not what was measured in this study.

“Just because you’re 40, doesn’t mean you’re 40 years old biologically,” said Larry Tucker. “We all know people that seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological ageing takes place in our bodies.” The marker of biological aging that he and the other researchers measured was telomere length. These are protective caps of DNA which sit on the end of our chromosomes, and unfortunately usually shorten with each cell division. As lack of telomeres means cell death, longer telomeres are associated with longevity, and high-intensity exercise meant longer telomeres. This study echoes another which showed that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) has significant antiaging effects. It also echoes yet another on running; this one found that running one hour can add, on average, seven more hours to your life. These benefits stopped at about three extra years of life, and four hours of running a week. Overall, presidents are not always right, physical activity has been repeatedly shown to extend average lifespan.

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