Lately there’s been a lot of buzz in the medical community over telomeres, components of DNA strands that appear to influence our rate of aging and tendency to develop cancer. Over time, telomeres shorten and cease to protect DNA, leaving cells vulnerable to disease and death. Scientists believe that preserving telomeres may be the key to longer lifespans and better protection from many diseases.
The key, of course, lies in finding ways to protect our telomeres. There isn’t exactly a telomere supplement you can purchase at your local health food store, but new research* indicates that exercise might actually play a role in anti-aging. You already know it’s good for your heart and state of mind, but exercise might actually have more anti-aging effects than we previously imagined. In fact, the right amount of exercise could turn back the clock up to ten years!
High-intensity exercise – the kind that gets your heart pumping – is considered best for an anti-aging regimen. For many people, staying motivated to exercise can be most of the battle. That’s why it’s recommended that you choose an activity you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or playing a sport. Challenge yourself, but don’t push to the point of exhaustion, or exercise will become unpleasant and you’ll be much more likely to quit.
You can make exercise more fun by working out with a buddy, listening to music on an MP3 player, or joining classes that make the experience more social. If you choose an activity that can be done in many locations, such as walking, running, or cycling, switch up your route frequently to prevent boredom.
As you age, remember that you’re more prone to injury. Hiring a personal trainer, or at least working with one a few times to learn proper techniques, can help to prevent injuries that will stop your exercise efforts in their tracks. Remember to take the time to stretch each time you exercise, wear appropriate footwear, and listen to your body’s signals that you’ve had enough.
Aim for 100-200 minutes of your favorite exercise, or a combination of several activities, per week. You’ll find that you’re more mentally alert, you look better, and you feel healthy as you get older.