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Why Dismissing Cardio May Not Be a Good Idea: Unveiling an Unexpected Revelation

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

At the outer edges of every chromosome in each cell of your body rest the protein caps known as telomeres, which safeguard your genes from harm. Stress, the process of getting older, and illness have the potential to cause your telomeres to shorten in size — but the positive information is that through physical activity, you can not only maintain the vitality of your telomeres but even rebuild (also known as lengthen) them after they have been worn down.

So, you’ll want to make it your mission during exercise to keep these telomeres lengthy and robust. After all, healthier DNA equates to a healthier version of yourself. Below, discover how to elongate your telomeres through physical activity, as outlined by scientific research.

How to Elongate Your Telomeres through Physical Activity

There exists a plethora of evidence that demonstrates that engaging in exercise is the solution to the inquiry of how to lengthen your telomeres — potentially due to the fact that physical activity stimulates the body’s production of the enzyme telomerase (which appends DNA to the telomeres). However, what precisely is the most effective workout routine for maintaining the well-being of telomeres?

The clear victor: cardiovascular exercise, also referred to as cardio. A study published in the European Heart Journal discovered that a singular 45-minute jog boosted telomerase activity in individuals who exercise for several hours following the workout, whereas a traditional circuit of weight-machine exercises had minimal to no effect. After engaging in three workout sessions per week for half a year, the joggers — as well as a HIIT group (alternating four-minute intense runs with equal jogs) — observed a 3 to 4 percent increase in telomere length; the weightlifting group experienced no change.

As the heightened overall heart rate during endurance and interval workouts stimulates the cells lining the interior of blood vessels, this triggers an elevation in telomerase (and nitric oxide synthase), explains Christian Werner, M.D., the leading author of the study. “So, it’s analogous to making regular contributions to an account that counters the aging process,” he states.

However, a single workout session is insufficient: An all-encompassing review of trials published in 2022 points out that cardio workouts need to be carried out for at least six months to observe those results of telomere lengthening, which aligns with the duration of the study.

And, nevertheless, you do not desire to abandon the weights entirely, expresses exercise scientist Michele Olson, C.S.C.S., Ph.D., senior clinical professor of exercise physiology at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. “Strength training is the solution to upholding muscle and bone as we grow older,” she clarifies.

How to Track Your Telomere Fitness

The proliferation of at-home genetic testing services means that there are a variety of ways to get your telomeres tested. But be cautioned: Those tests are often expensive, and they may not always be dependable. As for how frequently you should examine the length of your telomeres? “I recommend getting your telomeres tested every five to 10 years to see how you’re aging,” says Michael Manavian of Greenwich DX Sports Labs, a DNA-based health and performance testing center in Connecticut.

And in the meantime, follow the guidance of trainer Jillian Michaels, whose book, The 6 Keys, reveals scientifically-supported strategies for helping your body age better. “I always include HIIT training in my regimen — as well as yoga, which has been demonstrated to reduce stress and thus also aid in preserving telomeres,” she remarks.

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