In the News: Why Do Athletes Live Longer?

I came across an interesting article in the November 30th edition of U.S. News & World report online and thought I’d share it with you here. It’s interesting reading.

There is an abundance of data that indicate beneficial effects of exercise….and one of those benefits may be a longer life-expectancy. But why?

Last week, in the online version of Circulation, an American Heart Association medical journal, a group of investigators in Hamburg, Germany report some novel findings in young and middle-aged track and field athletes in an article, entitled “Physical exercise prevents cellular senescence in circulating leukocytes and in the vessel wall.”

It turns out that endurance athletes have longer telomeres–the DNA at the tips of the chromosomes that protect cells–in their white blood cells compared to non-athletes. The authors speculate that this feature provides, over a lifetime, an anti-aging effect.

It’s also interesting to note that three American scientists shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year for their work, over many years, to understand the telomeres and the process of cell death and aging. You can read about this in a report at from earlier this week.

Scientists are only beginning to understand the process of aging in humans, but it is nice to know that endurance athlete’s may have a leg up!

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  1. says

    Does it matter when in your life you start regularly doing vigorous exercise for this effect to happen? I ran track in high school. Then I got into bad habits in college, fell out of shape, and gained weight. Now I am 32 years old, thin again and have been on a regular vigorous exercise program since July 2012. Do you think what I’m doing now, if I keep it up (as I intend to!) will have the effect you’re talking about?

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