People are often willing to go to any lengths to slow down aging, but scientists have been unable to pinpoint a definite process that can achieve this and help them find the fountain of youth. However, a new study reveals that high levels of physical activity could be the much-wanted solution to the aging problem.

The new research indicates that people who exercise and regularly engage in physically demanding tasks, tend to show a different cellular structure and age slowly vis-à-vis those who lead a sedentary life.

How Was The Research Conducted

Larry Tucker, an exercise science professor, along with a team of researchers from the Brigham Young University conducted the new study.

Tucker analyzed cellular data from 5,823 participants who took part in CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study primarily focused on the telomere length in individuals.

Telomeres are the nucleotide endcaps of an individual's chromosomes. They are similar to a biological clock and are correlated with age. With each successive cell replication, a portion of these telomeres are lost. So, as people age, their telomeres tend to get shorter.

The NHANES data recorded the telomere lengths in participants and also listed 62 activities in which the subjects participated in a 30-day period. This gave Tucker and other scientists sufficient data to analyze the physical activity of each participant.

Does Physical Activity Slow Down Aging?

The researchers found that people with high physical activity had longer telomeres and their biological aging was nine years less than those who led sedentary lives. High levels of activity also gave individuals a seven-year advantage over those who exercised in moderation.

"If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won't cut it," Tucker remarked.

The scientists said that high levels of exercise which slowed aging significantly would be equivalent to jogging for 30 minutes a day, five days a week in women. In men it would compose of jogging for 40 minutes a day, five days a week.

Tucker revealed that the shortest telomeres were found in people who engaged in the least amount of physical activity. In fact, these people had 140 less base DNA pairs than the highly active subjects. Researchers also noticed that telomere lengths did not vary much between people with moderate physical activity and those who led a sedentary life.

Tucker and his team posited that it is possible that the inflammation and increased oxidation during high levels of physical activity may be responsible for the longer telomeres and lower cellular aging in people who exercised regularly.

The results of the study have been published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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