Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brief exercise reduces impact of stress on aging

I've pointed to research in the past on the effect of different types of exercise on cell aging, as measured by telomere length( for example - Marathons make your muscles old). As usual, things are quite complex.

Anyway, there is some new research just published that
Vigorous physical activity appears to protect those experiencing high stress by buffering its relationship with telomere length.
Chronic psychological stress is responsible for a range of health problems, but it seems that it even has an effect at a cellular level right in the DNA. Exercise however can reduce its negative impacts:

In the study, 62 post-menopausal women – many of whom were caring for spouses or parents with dementia -- reported at the end of each day over three days the number of minutes of vigorous physical activity in which they had engaged. Vigorous activity in the study was defined as "increased heart rate and/or sweating.'' They also reported separately their perceptions of life stress that they had experienced during the prior month. Their blood's immune cells were examined for telomere length.

Results support the UCSF-led discovery six years earlier in premenopausal women that psychological stress has a detrimental effect on immune cell longevity, as it relates to shorter telomeres. The new study showed, however, that when participants were divided into groups – an inactive group, and an active group (i.e., they met federal recommendations for 75 minutes of weekly physical activity) – only the inactive high stress group had shorter telomeres. The active high stress group did not have shorter telomeres. In other words, stress predicted shorter telomeres in the sedentary group, but not in the active group.

There is more in the report here.


Christina said...

Thank you for sharing this new research - fascinating!

I am especially interested in the new study they are doing where they tell people the length of their telomeres and see if it affects lifestyle change... can't wait to see results of that! It makes sense that it would (similar to LDL results).

I just wonder how accurate telomere lenght measurements are for clinical use (there seems to be a lot of variability).

Earl Cannonbear said...

So what is it? Does endurance training affect the aging process or doesn't it? Please give us your professional and experienced opinion.

Chris said...

My professional opinion is not much use. My profession has nothing at all to do with exercise physiology. I'm just pointing this stuff out for interest.

Colin said...

Hi Chris,

fascinating stuff. I'm becoming more and more convinced of the negative effects of stress and positive effects of activity.

Problem is that much of the data is not freely available on the web. Do you know where the actual results are from this study and the other studies you've referenced.

I've used other data to make points about trends in calorie intake over time. See

I'd love to do this for other material but I don't know where to find the underlying results to use. Could you help?