Live 10 Years Longer with Exercise
Exercise has been associated with a lower incidence of cancer, while a sedentary lifestyle increases cancer risk. Maintaining an active lifestyle in conjunction with eating healthy foods helps keep your energy levels up. Fitness encourages healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and joint function, as well as maintenance of optimal weight. Best of all, exercise can help you live longer.
One of the theories for why we age relates to the length of the telomeres on the ends of our chromosomes. Telomeres are highly repetitive sequences of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that keep the double strands of DNA from unraveling. They can be likened to the plastic tips on the ends of your shoelaces that prevent them from becoming frayed. Each time a cell replicates, one of the telomere "beads" (repeated DNA sequences) drops off. When all of the telomeres have dropped off, the cell can no longer replicate and dies.
A recent study from King’s College in London compared telomere length in a group of 2400 twins. The mean difference in telomere length between the most and least physically active people was 200 nucleotides. This meant the most active subjects had the telomere length of people 10 years younger. The least active people only got 16 minutes of exercise a week, while the most active about 200 minutes. Three hours of exercise a week translated into the reversal of 10 years of aging – at least as far as telomere length is concerned. The preservation of your telomeres is just one in a long list of benefits from exercise.
Ray & Terry recommend three types of exercise: aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. Chapter 14 of Transcend describes a comprehensive fitness program incorporating all three types of exercise that you can personalize for your age and fitness level.