Aerobic exercise lengthens telomeres and buffers against losses caused by stress | Elissa Epel

Aerobic exercise lengthens telomeres and buffers against losses caused by stress | Elissa Epel


[Rhonda]: I actually find that a good workout,
a very good like, you know, if I do a really hard intense run, or a sprint, or a high intensity
bicycling spin class or something that if I’m anxious, or I have a, you know, like a
sort of a pessimistic view of something, absolutely it helps alleviate that. [Elissa]: Yes, absolutely. Your N of 1 is
also been shown up in, you know, studies of exercise and studies by Eli Puterman showing
that exercise actually does reduce ruminative processes. [Rhonda]: What about exercise and meditation,
so telomerase activation. [Elissa]: So these lifestyle things…and
Liz I wrote a book summarizing all of the different things we know about telomeres from
their biology and genetics to the lifestyle factors. And it’s interesting, I would say
that there’s a pretty big literature on nutrition, exercise, sleep, showing healthier levels,
longer telomeres. But of course, these are correlational. So what we really want are
these intervention studies in humans. How much can we really move these things around?
Is it just that they’re all correlated at birth? You’re born with disadvantage, you
have shorter telomeres, you’re less likely to do all these health behaviors. So we really
need to experiment and move these things. So one study that I believe you just read
maybe just came out was a study by Eli Puterman, who took sedentary high-stress caregivers.
So men and women caring for a partner with dementia and he had them exercise for six
months. At the end of six months, their stress was lower, their telomeres were longer compared
to the control group. And so that’s a hint, you know, it’s just one study but it’s a hint
that we can improve our circulating immune cell telomere length. Exactly how that happened,
we don’t know. Is it per cell? Is it a refreshing of naive cells in the immune system? It’s very crude when we do this in humans
and we look at blood. We don’t know exact mechanisms but we see telomere lengthening
and that’s probably a good thing. So another study, Ashley Mason just published this, we
did a weight loss trial. And we found that, first of all, no one really keeps off a lot
of weight a year or two later, right? The handful of people who kept off 10% of their
weight a year later had telomere lengthening. So that was pretty exciting. And then we had
the same thing for the people who kept at least 5% off, it was just less dramatic. So a proof of concept study, if you change
your set point of weight, that’s probably very good for a lot of your metabolic health
but including your telomere length. So that was pretty exciting because there’s many meta-analyses
showing higher BMI, shorter telomere length. So what? Can we change that? Can we move that?
What is it? Is it insulin sensitivity? Is it really at a paucity? I personally think
forget about weight, don’t get on the scale. Just look at your metabolic health, your levels
of glucose and insulin.