(NaturalNews) A recent study conducted by researchers from Saarland University in Germany has found that engaging in long-term physical activity results in an anti-aging effect. Telomeres, the protective caps found on the ends of cell chromosomes that gradually shorten with age, were found to shorten more slowly in athletes who exercise regularly.
Every time a cell divides, its telomeres get a little bit shorter and the cell becomes slightly more susceptible to dying. Telomeres have been compared to the plastic ends on shoelaces that prevent them from unraveling. Recent telomere research has discovered that the shortening of telomeres is directly correlated to the aging process as cell integrity slowly degrades over time.
In the study, researchers evaluated two groups of healthy, non-smoking people and two groups of professional athletes. The one athletic group was composed of athletes averaging 20 years old who were members of the German national track and field team while the other athletic group was composed of middle-aged runners who had been training since they were young.
Researchers found that in both groups of athletes, physical exercise had led to the activation of the telomerase enzyme which is responsible for producing and stabilizing telomeres. Telomerase activation led to a reduced shortening of telomeres in the athletes' leukocytes, white blood cells that protects the body against infection and disease. The most visible effect was noticed in the middle-aged participants who had been engaging in regular endurance training for several decades.
Other scientists believe that even moderate levels of exercise are responsible for slowing down the aging process and even reversing it. Many studies have shown that engaging in regular physical activity helps to prevent the onset of chronic disease and can help to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. By slowing down the aging process, other diseases like cancer, stroke, and diabetes can also be prevented.
A similar study conducted in Sweden found that regular exercise also contributes to increased intelligence and boosted learning ability. More than 1.2 million 18-year-old Swedish men who enlisted for military service were evaluated. Researchers found that their intense physical training resulted in increased IQ and improved learning abilities.
Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain which many believe helps to improve nerve function. Exercising also produces sweat which works to cleanse the body of toxic buildup and improve overall well being. A whole array of benefits can be achieved by regularly exercising.