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Study: Endurance exercises here may delay aging process

January 3, 2013

Endurance exercises are an important part of healthy aging. Activities such as walking, jogging and swimming can help seniors maintain heart health and prevent other diseases. Now, new research out of Norway suggests such exercises may actually reduce signs of aging on a genetic level.

The study was led by a team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and looked at the health of endurance athletes between 66 and 77 years old. The team looked at the length of the caps on chromosomes, known as telomeres.

The length of telomeres is often tied to cellular and physical aging, as they tend to shorten as a person gets older. Researchers found that the active seniors in the study had considerably longer telomeres than their more sedentary peers. In fact, the researchers noticed a stronger relationship between activity levels and telomere length in older adults than they did in people in their 20s.

"[The results] suggest that endurance exercise training may regulate the telomeres in old age and results in slowing of [the] aging process by maintaining telomere length," the study authors wrote.

Although researchers concede they will require further investigation into the topic due to the small sample size used in the initial testing, the results highlight the fact that endurance activities should be a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Even if genetic benefits are not quite as substantial, there are considerable advantages.

Fall prevention is among the most significant advantages of regular physical activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking, jogging and anything in between, can help seniors strengthen their muscles and improve their balance, which are two key factors to preventing falls.