Researchers found that intensive exercise prevented shortening of telomeres could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system.
The researchers found that intensive exercise prevented shortening of telomeres, a protective effect against aging of the cardiovascular system.
The telomere shortening mechanism limits cells to a fixed number of divisions and can be regarded as a "biological clock."
Gradual shortening of telomeres through cell divisions leads to aging on the cellular level and may limit lifetimes. When the telomeres become critically short the cell undergoes death.
Two groups of trained professional athletes were compared with those who were not trained athletes.
The blood cells of the individuals with long-term exercise training exhibited molecular indicators of reduced aging.
"The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere," said Dr Ulrich Laufs, M.D., the study's lead author and professor of clinical and experimental medicine in the department of internal medicine at Saarland University in Homburg, Germany. The age-dependent telomere loss was lower in the master athletes who had performed endurance exercising for several decades.
"Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise on the vessel wall and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease," Laufs added.
The study is reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.