Exercise and live longer?
It's a genetic fact. A recent study further confirms what previous research has shown; exercise affects cells and DNA structure increasing function and lifespan.
An important structure of DNA called a telomere dictates how many times a cell can make copies of it's self. Once you reach the telomere section of your DNA you are literally at the end of your rope. A length of DNA can make copies of it's self but each copy made uses up some of it's length. Telomeres are like end caps and when DNA has used up it's length and gets to the telomere it stops dividing. The length of the telomere matters too: longer increases number of possible copies; shorter decreases number.
Exercise increases the length of the telomere allowing the DNA to keep making copies. The affect isn't indefinite; research has shown that exercise in sufficient volume and intensity can increase life span by over 10 years while smoking and obesity can shorten telomere length subtracting 10 years from normal life expectancy.
This research compared life long masters athletes (ave age 51) and younger pro athletes (ave age 20) and compared them to healthy non exercisers who did not smoke.
The athletes were significantly more fit (no kidding), had lower BMI, lower resting heart rate, and better cholesterol numbers. When the masters athletes were compared to the sedentary group it was found the athletes had lower telomere loss.
The masters athletes had exercised for decades with an average week having 80 kilometers per week of running.
This doesn't mean everyone should start running 80 km/ week, but it does show that people in their 50's who have been regular exercises have a distinct genetic advantage over their sedentary peers. The best thing about this genetic advantage is that you can make it yourself.
How do we make practical use of research looking at how our behavior affects telomere length?
Stay away from excessive sugar intake
Ditch the smokes or don't start smoking
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight