Return of the Telomeres

Lots of folks liked our 21 item list of the benefits of exercise two weeks ago as well as the story about a Professor last week, so we’ve got more benefits and another Professor for you. His topic will be the now-famous “telomeres” and a discussion of why you may not need supplements to amp up your telomere health.

So here are today’s reasons to exercise and what the Professor learned about telomeres.

Reason #1: To Melt Fat Away

The most coveted side effect of exercise is, of course, fat burn. The combination of a challenging exercise routine and a balanced meal plan is the best known way to lose fat. Here’s what losing fat feels like:

  • Your pants become loose
  • People around you begin to say that you look great
  • A glance at yourself in the mirror makes you smile
  • Your energy levels soar
  • You feel amazing

Reason #2: To Alleviate Pain

Regular exercise is a great way to alleviate chronic muscle and joint pain. Persistent back pain can be lessened by strengthening your core, and you’ll protect yourself against injury. It amazes people when the chronic pain that they’ve lived with for years begins to fade after starting a regular exercise program.

Reason #3: To Increase Lean Tissue

More muscle is good for many reasons. You see, muscle uses many more calories each day than fatty tissue. In fact, one pound of muscle burns 30-50 calories each day at rest—compared to a measly 9 calories per pound of fat.

When you exercise your body composition will change to contain more lean tissue, thus resulting in extra calories burned while you sleep. What could be better than that?

Reason #4: To Stay Young

Here’s our Professor for this Week. Tim D. Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College in London, led a study on the effects of exercise on aging.

As a curious aside, noticing that our Professor of the Week POW) was from England, when I did a search I stumbled upon a “quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore” wherein was contained this bit, purportedly from an unpublished play by Shakespeare:

ENTER: Coach and Athlete

Coach: Look, m’Lord, on yon horizon – it comes!

Athlete: Aye ! [Translation:Yep!] And that right quickly. Behold! Even the Telomeres!

Coach: Strange. Longer the telomere, longer the life – as with the shorter the shorter!

Athlete: Passably strange, yet not so if we exerciseth! To arms!

Coach: To arms! Cry Havoc! Let slip the dogs of war! To arms! Start ye [Tr: you] with curls, gimme 3 sets of 12 reps. Verily [Tr: Righto!] strike now a blow for the Telomeres!

EXIT ALL.

I think that’s what I found.

Now back to Telomeres, because the results were astounding.

He (the POW) found that exercise appears to slow the shriveling of the protective tips on bundles of genes inside cells (called telomeres), which means a slowing of the aging process.

That’s what he says, anyway. This telomere stuff is out of my league, but here’s the study in a nutshell:

  • Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes and every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter.
  • Once a telomere gets too short, that cell can no longer divide.
  • Aging occurs as more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die. This results in weakened muscles, skin wrinkles, loss of eyesight and hearing, organ failure and slowed mental functioning.

So now comes this: Ask not what your telomeres can do for you, ask what you can do for your telomeres. Here’s what our Professor tells us:

  • The study analyzed the telomeres from the white bloods cells of twins over a 10-year period. Telomere length was used as a marker for the rate of biological aging.
  • It was found that the length of telomeres was directly related to that twin’s activity level. “There was a gradient,” Spector said. “As the amount of exercise increased, the telomere length increased.”
  • People who did 100 minutes of weekly exercise had telomeres that looked like those from someone about 5-6 years younger than those who did 16 minutes of exercise each week.
  • People who did 3 hours of vigorous exercise each week had telomeres that looked like those from someone about 9 years younger.

So, what the good Prof is saying is, Do more for your telomeres and they’ll do more for you – and longer, at that!

Reason #5: To Prevent or Control Type 2 Diabetes

Regular exercise helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. This is something that people with type 2 diabetes, or at risk for type 2 diabetes, gain substantial benefits from. Exercise improves the body’s use of insulin, and the related weight loss improves insulin sensitivity.

Hark: Patients with type 2 diabetes need to follow guidelines from their doctor before starting an exercise program.

Reason #6: To Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

Exercise has shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels for these two reasons:

  • Weak Heart Muscles pump little blood with lots of effort. By exercising you strengthen your heart muscles and train them to pump more blood with less effort. The stronger your heart is the less pressure will be exerted on your arteries.
  • Exercise Increases HDL levels in some people—this means a decrease in your risk for heart disease. Other heart disease risk factors such as weight, diabetes and high blood pressure all show improvement with regular exercise.

Reason #7: To Feel Great

The first thing that clients tell me after starting an exercise program is how much better they feel. Most didn’t even realize how bad they felt! It is easy to get used to feeling sluggish, achy and unmotivated. Exercise boosts your energy levels and makes you feel amazing.

The quickest, easiest way to guarantee that you’ll meet your fitness and weight loss goals is to work one-on-one with a qualified fitness professional. You’ll be held accountable with your workouts and you’ll be instructed properly and shown techniques and strategies that will expedite your results.

Not only will you feel better, you’ll feel better about yourself! Let’s do this thing!

About Tom Schweickert

Tom Schweickert, EA, CPC, CPT brings a unique combination as a Life Coach, Personal Trainer and Money Coach to help folks negotiate these interesting times.
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