I often recommend exercise to my patients. Determining the type of exercise and duration depends on the individual. We all know that exercise has been linked to better outcomes in heart disease, certain types of cancer and diabetes.
What we haven’t known are the exact mechanisms as to why. New DNA tests help to quantify the benefits. A new study out of Brigham Young University revealed that if you work out extensively, and are willing to sweat, you may be able to reduce one type of aging that happens inside your cells.
The field of Genetic, DNA & Precision Based Medicine is exploding and within that field there are specific areas of interest- one of which is telomeres. Telomeres are the protective endcaps on chromosomes which have been likened to the twist ties at the end of a tootsie roll wrapper. They are like a biological clock/ sand dial that has been correlated closely with our biological age.
The study which was published in Preventive Medicine, also found that people who had consistently high levels of physical activities had significantly longer telomeres than those who have moderate cell lives.
The exact mechanism as to how exercise preserves telomeres is unknown, but it may be tied to inflammation and oxidative stress. Exercise has been shown to reduce/suppress inflammation and oxidative stress over time if the physical activities are consistent and prolonged. It is believed that the association and advantages of long life are also associated with the preservation of telomeres.
By measuring DNA and Telomere length, we now have another tool that helps to precisely determine the benefits of exercise. Hopefully through research like this, we will be better able to quantify how these changes will enhance our lives and ultimately our life expectancy.