The study at UCSF looked at 62 postmenopausal women suffering long-term stress (caregivers of chronically ill loved ones). They divided the group into inactive and active people (active = at least 75 minutes of weekly physical activity). It turned out that only the inactive group had shortened telomeres.
Wow! Another reason to make time for exercise… especially if we lead stressful lives. Seems that even just a little physical activity can protect these important pieces of our chromosome.
One of the lead telomere researchers, Elissa Epel, said:
"Telomere length is increasingly considered a biological marker of the accumulated wear and tear of living, integrating genetic influences, lifestyle behaviors, and stress… Even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres."
To me, one of the most exciting things in the article was the last paragraph about how they are now telling people the length of their telomeres to see if this impacts people’s lifestyle choices (to reduce stress, eat less meat, exercise, drink less alcohol, etc) in order to keep their telomeres long and healthy. Can’t wait to hear results of that study...