What Kind of Exercise Can Help You Stay Young?
Endurance training, resistance training or high intensity interval training – what kind of physical exercise will help your body stay younger longer? A new study aims to answer this question.
Telomeres, the “safety caps” that protect the strands of genetic material within our cells, are a key factor in cellular health.
As the telomeres get shorter, this genetic material will begin to deteriorate, which will send a signal that the cell is aging and will soon begin the process of cell death.
The enzyme telomerase helps maintain telomere length, but as we age telomerase becomes much less active, which has an impact on cellular aging.
Recently, researchers at the University of Leipzig in Germany, together with colleagues from other research institutes, investigated whether different types of physical exercise can slow down biological aging processes.
The team studied telomere length and telomerase activity in participants who engaged in one of three types of exercise during the duration of the study, namely endurance exercise, high intensity interval training or resistance training.
Endurance exercise is intended to help a person improve endurance and includes activities such as running, swimming, and cycling. High-intensity interval exercise is similar, but it requires a person to undergo short periods of intense training, followed by rest and recovery, and then another intense training.
Finally, resistance – or strength – training aims to increase a person’s physical strength and involves activities such as weight lifting.
The researchers report their results in the study document published yesterday in the European Heart Journal.
For the current study, led by Professor Ulrich Laufs of the University of Leipzig, the researchers initially recruited 266 participants who were young and healthy, but who did not have an active lifestyle.
The investigators randomly divided the study participants into four groups, as follows:
- Some had to undergo endurance training, which involved running.
- Some took high-intensity interval training, which included workouts incorporating warm-up exercises, followed by four high-intensity running cycles alternated with a slow run, and a rest period to finish.
- Some participants did resistance training, involving machine exercises, including back extensions, crunches, pulldowns, seated rowing, seated leg curls and extensions, seated chest presses, and leg presses. elongated.
- Those in the latter group continued to lead their sedentary lifestyle, acting as a control group.
The intervention period was 6 months, and participants who experimented with different types of training were required to complete three 45-minute exercise sessions per week. Of the initial total number of participants, 124 were able to complete the study.
In order to verify which type of training was most effective in promoting healthy aging, the researchers collected blood samples from the participants, once initially and then again 2 to 7 days after the last training session. end of the study.
By examining telomere length and telomerase activity in participants’ white blood cells, the researchers found that people who engaged in endurance training and high-intensity interval training benefited the most. ‘advantages.
“Our main conclusion is that, compared to the start of the study and the control group, in the volunteers who underwent endurance and high intensity training, telomerase activity and telomere length increased, this which is important for cellular aging, the capacity for regeneration and therefore, healthy aging, ”explains Professor Laufs. However, he also notes: “It’s interesting that resistance training did not exert these effects.”
Specifically, telomerase activity increased two to three times in people who performed endurance and high intensity training, while telomere length also increased significantly.
“The study identifies a mechanism by which endurance training – but not resistance training – improves healthy aging,” notes Professor Laufs.
“This may help design future studies on this important topic using telomere length as a [an] indicator of “biological age” in future intervention studies, “he adds.
Study co-author Dr Christian Werner, University of Saarland in Germany, says: “Our data supports current recommendations from the European Society of Cardiology that resistance exercise should be complementary to endurance training rather than a substitute.
“The data identifies telomerase activity and telomere length as sensitive means of measuring the effects of different forms of exercise at the cellular level. Using these metrics to guide training recommendations for individuals can improve both adherence and the effectiveness of exercise training programs in preventing cardiovascular disease.
Dr Christian Werner
As to why these training modes may have this beneficial effect on cellular health, the researchers suggest they may impact levels of nitric oxide – a free radical in the blood, which affects vessel function. blood and blood circulation, thus potentially influencing the aging processes at the cell level.
“From an evolutionary standpoint, endurance and high intensity training can mimic the beneficial movement and combat or flight behavior of our ancestors better than strength training,” says Dr. Werner.