If you’re still in the LSD (and before you say I’m a druggie, that means Long Slow Distance) training bandwagon and you go for weekly long runs for fitness, then here’s another reason why you should start thinking of other ways to exercise. Take note, if you’re an endurance athlete, this also affects you but since that’s your chosen discipline, it’ll just be an “occupational hazard”.
Let me make it clear, the running community has done wonders for improving the health and well-being of our nation, and we should all be very appreciative of that. Fact of the matter is, getting up to run, is still a lot better than sitting on the couch playing video games. I’m just merely going to state some facts based on the latest research.
Telomeres are stretches of DNA found at the ends of our chromosomes. What they do can be compared to the ends of a shoelace which keep it from unravelling and basically getting damaged. Telemores do that to our chromosomes. That’s an important job. See the yellow spots at the ends of the blue chromosomes below? Those are your telomeres.
Getting older means that our cells have split and multiplied to facilitate growth. Telomeres help maintain cell integrity whenever they divide, however, they get shorter with each division. The shortening of telomeres has been linked with advanced aging and even some deseases like cancer.
Studies have shown that Telomere length can be maintained and even improved with vigorous aerobic exercise.However, studies have also shown that repetitive exercise-induced fatigue, which are common in veteran athletes and long distance runners, have shorter telomere lengths. Then again, another study showed that veteran power-lifters, the kind who lift very very very heavy stuff, have shown shorter telomere lengths compared to healthy adults their age. Finally, a german study basically negates everything that I will say, and says that endurance trained athletes have longer telomeres than their untrained counterparts. Though the study didn’t take into consideration the supplemental exercises of these athletes.
I believe that evidence from these studies can be confusing at times and it’s part of my job to make some sense of it all and report them to you guys. Here’s what I think:
If telomeres hold the key to anti-aging, which this guy surely believes, then we should remember one important rule when it comes to all things in life: moderation. I’ve always said that exercise shouldn’t be confined in the weight room, exercise should be part of your every day routine, meaning, there is more to life than just exercising. Again, unless you’re an athlete, then you’re doomed (kidding).
So if you’re spending hours on the road or the treadmill, a good alternative might be short but intense sprints. If you’re spending hours on the weight room trying to clean out the plate tree, maybe it’s time to try interval weight training or circuits. These alternatives will not only shed some time from your workouts, but they may actually be more effective in getting that youthful physique you’ve been dreaming of.
And who knows, maybe you’ll thank me on your 100th birthday.