But it can slow down the actual aging process! What is “it”? Drumroll please… Exercise!
I know, I know, isn’t science wonderful? But before you get all been-there-heard-that-research on me, check out this new study. It’s a little nuanced but exciting nevertheless.
In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (What, you haven’t read your copy yet? Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it’s just sitting next to your toilet waiting for you to get to it. Eat some lentils – that’ll keep you there for a while.) researchers from King’s College in London did the gold standard of research studies: a Twin Study. Side note: if you are a twin or just really look like someone else and are a good liar, you can make a buttload of money doing studies. In fact, scientists will love you so much you may never have to get a real job. Sure you’ll have to do a lot of crappy stuff in the name of science but I’m pretty sure you get all major holiday off. Researchers examined 2401 twins, looking at their activity level compared to the length of their telomeres.
Crash course in biology
The telomeres are the ends of your chromosomes. (If you don’t know what your chromosomes are, you need more help than I can give you. Here’s a hint, grab a mirror and try to find a “cell”. If there is someone living in it, you are in the wrong place – but hey, you were framed, right??) The important thing to know about telomeres: they shorten as you age. Even if you lie on your driver’s license or have Demi Moore-levels of plastic surgery, they will still blab your real age.
Here’s the good part: researchers found that “the most active subjects had telomeres the same length as sedentary individuals up to 10 years younger, on average.” So, if you exercise (the “active” subjects in the study did 199 minutes of exercise/week), it doesn’t just protect you from age-related diseases and injuries – it actually keeps you young. About 10 years younger, in fact.
There’s always a “but” isn’t there? (And no, I’m not talking about that guy at parties – you know who I mean. If you don’t, it’s you;)) Researchers warn that there needs to be more research to prove a definitive link between exercising and longer telomeres. Well, we’ll leave that up to those science-y folk and in the meantime there are plenty of other great reasons to get your sweat on. So if you are looking for motivation to hit the gym, the ultimate frisbee field or just your annoying neighbor (hey, that’s exercise, right?) – just think of your telomeres! Your cell mate will thank you.
PS> When you’re done with that killer workout I just inspired you to do (you can thank me later:)), check out Lucas’ advice on recovery. Dude is smart.