How can understanding the role that telomeres play in cell reproduction help increase your life expectancy? Let’s find out!
What are Telomeres?
Telomeres are segments of DNA located at the end of our chromosomes. Scientists often compare these structures to the plastic tips of shoelaces that help keep the laces together. In the same way, telomeres prevent chromosomes from fraying or tangling with one another. When this occurs, genetic information gets mixed up or destroyed, giving rise to cell malfunction, an increased risk of disease or even shortening one’s lifespan.
Each time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter. After years of splicing and dicing, the size of the telomeres is insufficient for additional divisions. When this happens, cells are unfit to divide any further and, in turn, become inactive, die or continue to divide anyway—an irregular process that’s potentially dangerous to your health.
Ultimately, telomeres play a crucial role in the aging process of our bodies. The more our cells are stripped of their telomeres and no longer functioning properly—without others taking their place—the body follows a similar path and starts to break down, as well. Telomeres don’t deteriorate quietly, either; their shortening process is associated with signs of aging, and a higher risk of cancer, and other illnesses.
How can you maintain telomeres?
Although science still isn’t 100 percent sure how the length of telomeres impact our the aging process, it’s indisputable that the longer they are, the healthier you’ll be. Fortunately, there are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make to ensure your telomeres continue to lengthen.
- Frequent Exercise
Here’s another reason to hit the gym. Exercise is a natural energy and mood enhancer that can help ensure the length of your telomeres. A recent study shows that a person who participates in any type of exercise is nearly 3 percent less likely to have incredibly short telomeres than a person who rarely ever exercised. Moreover, the study showed that the more a person exercised, the longer their telomeres were
The connection between telomere length and physical activity appear to be the most distinct among those in middle age. Though the earlier you start living a healthy lifestyle, the better, it’s never too late for someone to start a fitness program and, start preventing the shortening of their telomeres.
- Manage and Reduce Stress
Several studies have revealed that chronic stress is related to shorter telomeres. In a 2004 study, healthy women who were mothers of healthy children (control), were compared to caregivers of children that were chronically ill. In most cases, the caregiving mothers were shown to have telomeres that appeared to be almost ten years shorter than the control moms.
Another study, examining young children, showed that those who grew up in distressing environments had telomeres that were nearly 40 percent shorter than children from stable homes. All in all, chronic stress doesn’t only affect your mood in a negative way, it is also a serious contributor to advanced aging. By exercising on a regular basis, getting plenty of sleep, and scheduling peaceful time for yourself everyday, you’ll significantly reduce your stress levels.
- Increase Intake of Foods with Antioxidant and Vitamin Benefits
In order to protect telomeres and cells in general from oxidative damage, you should make it a point to eat foods high in vitamins and antioxidants. Hight antioxidant foods, like blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and artichokes, slow down the aging process and help prevent or reduce cell damage. Multivitamin supplements have also been shown to compensate for minor shortcomings in the nutritional content of your diet.
Studies have found that women who were taking daily supplements had telomeres that were almost 5 percent longer than those who were not. In the same study, it was shown that individuals who ate food rich in vitamin C and E also had longer telomeres. Oranges, kale and peppers are considered to be foods with the highest levels of vitamin C, while spinach, sweet potatoes and almonds are richest in vitamin E.
- Embrace Meditation and Yoga
During a 2014 study involving breast cancer survivors, results showed that those who made time in their day for mindful meditation and yoga did not see a reduction in telomere length. The telomeres of those who didn’t participate in either activity, however, became shorter during the same study period.
Even further, a 2008 study with men uncovered that telomerase activity increased after a three month regimen of aerobic exercise, a vegan diet, stress management, and yoga. Meditation is different for everyone: Some people find peace while praying, while others stick to a routine that helps them set an intention for their day and escape the distractions of the world. No matter your philosophy, the health benefits of reducing stress are undeniable.
Whether you’re looking for a fitness center offering group exercises, personal training, aquatic, weight training or hot yoga in Hainesport, NJ, or any of its surrounding areas, Future Fitness offers the best programs, equipment and amenities. By maintaining a healthier lifestyle, you’ll help lengthen your telomeres for a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
Sign up for a FREE group fitness class, including personal training, ZUMBA®, cross-training, aquatics or aerial yoga in Mt. Laurel, by filling out a contact form on our website today!