Exercise can halt the aging process, study finds

GOING to the gym is not only good for you, it can also halt the aging process, according to new study.

Working out for as little as 15 minutes every day helps to slowing down the breakdown of important cells that are key to staying healthy, the Daily Mail reports.

That means gym regulars will suffer less stress, will look younger and are also less likely to get ill, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco said.

Exercise increases levels of the enzyme telomerase which plays a critical part in the control of cell aging.  It forms “caps” that protect strands of DNA from breaking up because of inflammation and other aging processes.  Scientists believe that many age-related diseases take hold when stocks of telomerase fall below the point that they shield DNA.

“We have extended those findings to show that, in fact, there are things we can do about it, psychologist Dr Eli Puterman said.  “If we maintain the levels of physical activity recommended by public health bodies we can prevent the unyielding damage that psychological stress may have on our body.”

The study found women who did about 15 minutes of vigorous exercise — achieving an “increased heart rate and/or sweating” — each day were able to prevent their DNA from deteriorating.   Dr Elissa Epel, an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, added: “Even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres.”

As little as 42 minutes of vigorous exercise over a three-day period was shown to protect telomere length, the study published in the Science journal revealed. Even women who were highly stressed were able to halt this aging process if they exercised regularly, it added.

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