The secret to longevity may have been on the tips of your chromosomes all along.
Telomeres or the chromosomes that contain your genes have two “arms,” each containing a single molecule of DNA composed of units called bases. A typical DNA molecule is approximately 100 million bases long. Telomeres are bundles of DNA located at the very tip of each chromosome arm.
At the moment of your conception in the womb, a telomere starts at about 15,000 bases long. Immediately after conception, your cells start dividing and your telomeres shorten each time cell division occurs. Once your telomeres are reduced to about 5,000 bases, you die of old age.
The new book The Immortality Edge: Realize the Secrets of Your Telomeres for a Longer, Healthier Life, states:
Telomeres keep our chromosomes intact, in the manner of the plastic caps that hold the ends of shoelaces together. As cells divide and replicate, telomeres eventually shorten; when they become too short, cells die.
Dr. Joseph Mercola has been actively looking at anti-aging strategies over the last couple of years. He attended the 2009 Longevity Summit and was reintroduced to the science of telomeres during a lecture by Sierra Sciences CEO Bill Andrews.
Dr. Mercola also recently interviewed Greta Blackburn, co-author of The Immortality Edge. He is convinced that telomeres represent the most exciting and viable possibility to greatly boost longevity. He says that is the kind of anti-aging strategy that actually allows you to regenerate and literally “grow younger.”
The Anti-Aging Benefits of Vigorous Exercise
Exercise is one of the pillars of good health and appears that it can also be an effective anti-aging strategy. A University of California San Francisco study (link) suggests that exercise has a buffering effect on telomere shortening.
The study involved 63 healthy post-menopausal women who were divided into two groups — active and sedentary — in an attempt to measure the effects of chronic psychological stress on telomere length. The women who exercised vigorously for three consecutive days showed no correlation between telomere length and perceived stress, while those who did not exercise increased their odds of having shorter telomeres.
The Immortality Edge emphasizes the importance of high-intensity exercise to prevent telomere shortening. A study published in Mechanisms of Aging and Development (link) showed a direct association between reduced telomere shortening in your later years and high-intensity exercise techniques.
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is not influenced by aerobic exercise status among young subjects, presumably because TL is intact (i.e., already normal) in sedentary healthy young adults.
However, as LTL shortens with aging it appears that maintenance of aerobic fitness, produced by chronic strenuous exercise and reflected by higher VO2max, acts to preserve LTL.
… Our results indicate that leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is preserved in healthy older adults who perform vigorous aerobic exercise and is positively related to maximal aerobic exercise capacity. This may represent a novel molecular mechanism underlying the “anti-aging” effects of maintaining high aerobic fitness.
Dr. Mercola highly recommends Peak 8 exercises as a perfect example of high-intensity exercise. Peak 8 exercises are interval training workouts that can be performed with any type of exercise with or without equipment. Peak 8 helps cut down your exercise time because you’ll only need around 20 minutes to complete them, as opposed to doing the usual hour-long cardio. Peak 8 exercises also have the ability to naturally stimulate your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH), which promotes your peak fitness and longevity.