Taking a walk? Kick it up a notch with some hill work. Short bursts of vigorous exercise may help protect against cell aging.
Small bouts of vigorous activity — about 14 minutes a day — may help protect our cells from aging. Telomeres, protective sheaths of DNA that hold our chromosomes together and keep them from unraveling, are thought to be a strong indicator of aging and longevity. The longer they are, the longer our lifespan. Cellular wear and tear can cause telomeres to shorten over time. Short telomeres have been linked to health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and early death. But a new study suggests that small amounts of vigorous exercise may help keep telomeres intact by buffering them against the effects of psychological stress. Stress also appears to shorten telomeres, while past research has linked regular exercise to longer ones. The key to vigorous exercise: Get your heart rate up and sweat. Jogging from one telephone pole to the next or walking up a steep hill during your regular walking program is a great way to do it.