Endurance exercises such as running and cycling can effectively reverse biological aging better than strength training, according to a new study.
Scientists monitored and analyzed how different exercises affect the cells of the human body and figure out if some are better than others in keeping a person look and feel younger.
The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.
Endurance Exercises Versus Resistance Training
The study involved 266 young, healthy, but inactive people. They were divided into groups, each enrolled to different exercise programs for six months. The first group did endurance training (running), the second group did high-intensity interval training also known as H.I.I.T. (bouts of high intensity and slower running), the third group did resistance training (circuit training on eighth machines including seated rowing and pulldown), and the last one remained sedentary. The participants exercised three times a week, spending 45 minutes in each session.
After the experiment, the researchers took blood samples from the participants. They analyzed each person's telomerase length and telomerase activity from their white blood cells.
The telomere is the repetitive DNA sequence that caps the chromosome and prevents it from deteriorating. As the body ages, the telomeres shorten, leading to cell death. The process of telomere shortening is controlled by several proteins, including the enzyme telomerase.
"Our main finding is that, compared to the start of the study and the control group, in volunteers who did endurance and high intensity training, telomerase activity and telomere length increased, which are both important for cellular aging, regenerative capacity and thus, healthy aging," explained Ulrich Laufs, a professor and lead researcher from the Leipzig University in Germany. "Interestingly, resistance training did not exert these effects."
Participants who have undergone endurance and high-intensity training increased their telomere length by two to three folds after the experiment.
Incorporating Endurance And Resistance Training
The researchers explained that resistance training is not bad, but it should not be a substitute for endurance training. Instead, the study backs the European Society of Cardiology's recommendation to incorporate both endurance and resistance training into everyone's exercise routine.
The researchers hope that the new findings can be used to develop exercise guidelines to improve efficacy in preventing cardiovascular diseases.