If you’ve ever wished you could wave a magic wand and slow down the aging process, your wish may be about to come true (if you wave the aforementioned wand vigorously enough to work up a sweat, that is): A new study from Brigham Young University suggests that the more physically active we are, the younger we are biologically. That’s thanks to these things called telomeres, which are what BYU describes as “the nucleotide endcaps of our chromosomes. They’re like our biological clock and they’re extremely correlated with age; each time a cell replicates, we lose a tiny bit of the endcaps.”
For the study, researchers looked at the physical activity of 5,823 adults, along with the length of their telomeres. They found that people who had high levels of activity had much longer telomeres than people who were moderately active or sedentary. Interestingly, people whose activity levels were sedentary, low or medium all had similar telomere lengths—implying that it’s not enough to be active if you want to slow down aging. You have to exercise at a high intensity. In the study, high levels of physical activity were defined as jogging for 30 minutes (for women) or 40 minutes (for men), five times a week. Guess it’s time to lace up our running shoes.