Dear Dr. Mo: Is exercise a way to ensure healthy aging?
Dear reader: Current data shows positive associations between aerobic fitness/physical exercise and healthier aging. In fact long-term exercise proves to be one of the keys for long-term health.
In a recent interesting pilot study, it was shown that there was a positive association between telomere length in skeletal muscle cells and long-term endurance-training exercise in older people.
Telomeres are like caps on ends of our chromosomes (Chromosomes are genetic material carriers) in cells; when these caps shorten enough, the cell stops dividing further and dies – telomeres’ length is decreasing with age and they are thought to be potential markers of cellular age, associated with physical aging process.
What the study shows is that older endurance trained athletes had longer telomere length compared with older people with medium activity levels. The study also found a positive association between aerobic fitness and muscle telomere length in endurance exercise trained participants.
In a nut shell, these results underscore the importance of aerobic fitness for healthy ageing and relevance of exercise for over-all health.
This specific study is only preliminary and warrants further research but healthy aging is almost certainly associated with physical activity, not just haphazard daily activity but deliberate, consistent and if needed, monitored physical exercise.
For further reading, here is the link to the study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052769
Yours in health,