A team of British researchers appears to have figured out how exercise slows the aging process. The mechanism involves the newly identified hormone irisin, which is released from muscles after exercise. The researchers found that this hormone is capable of influencing the body’s fat cells so that they burn energy instead of storing it. This increases metabolic rate and is thought to have potential anti-obesity effects. For the study, the research team looked at irisin levels in 81 healthy individuals who were not obese and found that those who had higher levels of the hormone also had longer telomeres - the repeating DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes. In healthy cells, telomeres help regulate cell division and prevent chromosomes from rearranging or fusing with one another, undesirable changes that could lead to cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The British researchers explained that their finding provides “a potential molecular link between keeping active and a healthy aging process.” Of course, to take advantage of this about you do have to bump up your irisin levels by exercising regularly.
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James E. Brown et al, “Plasma irisin levels predict telomere length in healthy adults”, AGE DOI: 10.1007/s11357-014-9620-9