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Exercise Slows Aging Process And Effects of Stress

Posted Apr 25 2011 1:00am
We exercise for many reasons. Some to lose weight and get fit. Others to reduce stress and feel better. Slowing down the aging process doesn't usually come to mind, but it should.

Recent studies are finding that exercise can keep cells younger. Specifically, vigorous exercise that breaks a sweat can stop telemeres--the protective caps and very small units of DNA on the ends of chromosomes--from shortening. Aging shortens telemeres because each time a cell divides it cannot completely replicate itself. When a telemere finally gets too short, the cell dies. Shorter telomeres are linked to a wide range of aging-related diseases.

Psychological stress can also accelerate telemere shortening. Studies have looked at various stressors, including post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood abuse and care giving, and found that those who suffered from such stress and did not exercise had shorter telemeres than those without major stressors in their lives. However, the telemeres in those who did suffer from those stressors and exercised were buffered from the negative effects.

One study even found that people who exercised vigorously and worked up a sweat at least three hours a week had telemeres the length of someone nine years younger than those who are more sedentary.

So go work up a good sweat at the gym and you may kill two birds with one stone:  gaining a better figure and a younger body.
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