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Our active life keeps our bodies cell young

by Don

People occasionally send me articles about being active later in life and I really appreciate it. Keep them coming. A high school friend of mine Linda Loft recently sent me a link to a New York Times article about how new research shows that being active keeps the cells of our bodies measurably younger.

Studies from both Saarland University in Germany and University of Colorado show that the cells of 50ish runners are substantially “younger” than their inactive counterparts, and are pretty similar to cells of 20 something active or inactive subjects. The study looked at telomeres which are tiny caps on the end of DNA strands, and the discovery of their function won several scientists the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine.

According to Gretchen Reynolds who wrote the article, “When cells divide and replicate these long strands of DNA, the telomere cap is snipped, a process that is believed to protect the rest of the DNA but leaves an increasingly abbreviated telomere. Eventually, if a cell’s telomeres become too short, the cell ‘‘either dies or enters a kind of suspended state,’’ says Stephen Roth, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland who is studying exercise and telomeres. Most researchers now accept telomere length as a reliable marker of cell age. In general, the shorter the telomere, the functionally older and more tired the cell.”

The study found that the telomeres of the 50 year old runners were only 10% shorter than those of the 20 year olds. The inactive 50 year olds telomeres were 40% shorter than those of the 20 year olds.

Science is just now finding evidence of what most of us know; that being active keeps you young. In the many interviews I’ve done with over-50 athletes, I found that they are not only physically youthful, but many have maintained a very youthful outlook on life. They still make time for and love to play. Have you played today?

See teh whole New York Times article at

Don’t delay in entering the t-shirt slogan contest I’m sponsoring for the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge at You could win $100!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kyle February 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm

This is some interesting information. It just solidifies why would should all make a LIFESTYLE change toward being more active. Now, I believe that being more active can make your cells younger, however, I’d be curious to see a study done comparing those cells to a sedentary lifestyle with a great diet.

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