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It turns out that mice DNA appears to be younger after half an hour of physical exertion. In short, every little bit helps! What’s up with that?
We’ve known for quite some time that exercise is good for your heart. It lowers your blood pressure, improves your cholesterol, and lowers your heartrate. But – like more phenomena in medicine – we’re not really sure how it works.
The piece at the end of our DNA strands is called the telomere. If you think of your DNA as a shoelace, the plastic bit at the ends of the lace is the telomere that prevents the lace from unravelling. The telomere protects the cell from damage and ageing: younger cells have relatively long telomeres, and they get shorter as the cells get older. This process is not chronological. Researchers from the university of Maryland wanted to know whether exercise influences the DNA inside a cardiac cell. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28166612
They entered the laboratory and had a group of mice run inside a treadmill for 30 minutes. A second group of mice was the control group, who just sat around in their enclosure. After this exertion, the researchers took a sample of all the cardiac cells, put them under a microscope, and found that the cells of the jogging mice showed increasaed activity of a certain protein that plays a role in the lengthening of the telomeres.
They concluded that the telomeres inside the DNA of the cardiac cells had increased in length after that single physical exercise, so they had become younger!
After a few hours, the effect dissipated, and mice aren’t people, so don’t assume that you’ll live to the ripe old age of 130 after going out for a jog just once, but it definitely shows that ‘every physical exercise has a direct effect on the cells of your heart’. And that is good news!