Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve our current mental, emotional, and physical health. In addition, aerobically trained individuals experience significant health benefits including decreased risk of chronic disease and premature death compared to their sedentary peers. In addition to these health benefits, scientists are also researching the impact of exercise on the aging process. New research is discovering exercise impacts aging at the cellular level. Scientists often measure a cell’s age by the length of the tip, telomere, of its’ chromosomes. Shorter chromosome length is associated with cellular dysfunction and cell death, but this length is modifiable through environment factors including exercise. A recent study examined the impact of exercise on chromosome and telomere length.
Werner and colleagues enrolled 124 inactive participants and randomized them into one of four groups including control, aerobic training, interval aerobic training, or resistance training (Eur Heart J. 2018). Both exercise groups attended 3, 45 minute training sessions per week over the 6 month training period. Authors reported aerobic capacity, VO2 max, increased in the exercise groups but only the aerobic training group impacted the individual’s chromosomes. Aerobic training was shown to lengthen telomeres on the ends of chromosomes after the training period. Authors reported the length changes were important for a cell’s regenerative ability and healthy aging.