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THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH (JC Mendoza)

We all know the benefits of regular exercise, physically active people have cells that look younger on a molecular level than those of couch potatoes; therefore being physically active reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases, potentially extending longevity, but scientists now have proof that it can really make you look younger.

In a study published in January in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers gave questionnaires to and collected DNA samples from 2,401 white twins. The researchers then analyzed the DNA to determine the length of repeated sequences of nucleic acids called telomeres that are located at the ends of chromosomes and that shorten over time in cells that divide.

The length of the telomeres in blood cells is believed to correspond with a person's biological age. The research indicates that the rate of shortening of telomeres increases with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. The telomere length decreased with age, contributing to an average loss of 21 nucleotides (the basic structural units of DNA) per year. Less physically active men and women displayed shorter leukocyte telomeres than those who were more active in their leisure time.

The mean difference in leukocyte telomere length between the most active (who performed an average of 199 minutes of physical activity per week) and least active (16 minutes of physical activity per week) subjects was 200 nucleotides, which means that the most active subjects had telomeres the same length as sedentary individuals up to 10 years younger, on average.” Observe the authors.

The authors suggest a few mechanisms by which more sedentary lifestyles might contribute to telomere degeneration. One could be damage to cells caused by exposure to oxygen, called oxidative stress. Increased inflammation in sedentary persons may also create this effect additionally; telomere length has been linked to perceived stress levels. This psychological stress may be reduced by physical activity, thus reduction its severity on telomeres and the aging process.

The researchers found that half-an-hour of exercise daily can not only slow the ageing process but also makes a person appear 10 years younger than an obese person of the same age.

According to lead researcher Prof Tim Spector of the King's College, London, "The US guidelines recommend that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week can have significant health benefits.”

The researchers suggested that exercise's potential to reduce oxidative stress and the resulting damage to cells may give it a protective effect against the aging process. They concluded that an inactive lifestyle may accelerate the aging process and, on the other hand, that regular exercise may have an anti-aging effect.

In conclusion, instead of spend more and more money on various dietary supplements or cosmetic products in the hope of ageing more slowly, people would be better off keeping the money and just doing some kind of exercise every day, like walking the dog in the morning, using the stairways instead the elevator, or join in a health club.

Remember, our body was not created to be inactive, sitting behind the computer or watching TV the whole day. It has to have some exercise activity in a daily basis in order to work efficiently.