Telomeres are tiny caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect our DNA from damage. They get shorter every year and are a biological marker for aging. Exercise is one of the most robust ways to slow telomere attrition and someone that is very physically active may have a biological age that is even 10 years younger than their chronological age. In this study, a high level of exercise was defined as 30 minutes of jogging per day for 5 days a week for women and 40 minutes per day for men. Get out there and sweat!
Exercise science professor Larry Tucker found adults with high physical activity levels have telomeres with a biological aging advantage of nine years over those who are sedentary, and a seven-year advantage compared to those who are moderately active. To be highly active, women had to engage in 30 minutes of jogging per day (40 minutes for men), five days a week.
“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” Tucker said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”