A study published earlier this week provides evidence that "strenuous, long-term exercise may have anti-aging properties by virtue of its effect on chromosomes." Specifically, exercise appears to benefit telomeres, which function as a protective cap at the end of chromosomes.
It has been known for a while that telomeres function like cellular clocks. With each division the telomere gets shorter and the cell gets older. Measuring the length of telomeres in a cell provides a good estimate of the age of that cell line.
This new study, involving about 100 subjects, showed that blood cells isolated from endurance athletes showed increased activity of telomerase, an enzyme which helps to repair the telomeres at the end of chromosomes.
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