We’ve long been searching for the fountain of youth. And we’ve found it (at least in part) in serums, superfoods and jars of high-end anti-aging cream. Turns out exercise may fight aging at the cellular level. According to new research, it might be time to add sweat to the list of powerful age-fighters.
A small study published in the journal Science Advances looked at a basic principle: In order to stay healthy, you have to keep your cells young. “Keeping your cells young is important to allow tissues to function properly,” says Anabelle Decottignies, a coauthor of the study and professor of pharmacy and biomedical sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. “For instance, the reason why your immunity drops when you get older is because your immune cells get old. Same holds true for the brain: Brain cells get old with time, and this impairs brain function.” Simple enough, right?
While you can’t change your chronological age, exercise fights aging by protecting your cells from the ticking clock. For the study, Decottignies and her team drilled down into the chromosomes to study the anti-aging effects of exercise. They had ten participants ride stationary bikes for 45 minutes and took muscle biopsies before and after each cycling session. They found that exercise boosts muscle levels of a compound called NRF1, which impacts the telomeres at the ends of each of our chromosomes.
In case you need a high school biology refresher (don’t worry, we did, too), telomeres are like little biological clocks on the ends of our DNA. When they’re in good shape, our DNA (and therefore our cells) stays young. When they get damaged, the cells get old. “Unfortunately, telomeres get eroded with time,” says Decottignies. “But the speed of erosion is not fully fixed, which explains why you can impact your biological age.”
For which type of exercise is most effective for anti-aging, check out the full article on Allure.
By Macaela Mackenzie, Allure Contributor