London (IANS) Forget botox, just doing brisk walking daily may shave off 16 years from your biological age by midlife, finds a study.
Researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK in a new study of genetic data of more than 400,000 adults revealed a clear link between walking pace and a genetic marker of biological age.
In the paper published in the journal Communications Biology, they confirmed a causal link between walking pace and leukocyte telomere length (LTL), an indicator of biological age; and found that a faster walking pace, independent of the amount of physical activity, was associated with longer telomere.
The team estimated that a lifetime of brisk walking could lead to the equivalent of 16 years younger biological age by midlife.
Telomeres are the acaps’ at the end of each chromosome, and hold repetitive sequences of non-coding DNA that protect the chromosome from damage, similar to the way the cap at the end of a shoelace stops it from unravelling.
Each time a cell divides, these telomeres become shorter – until a point where they become so short that the cell can no longer divide, known as ‘replicative senescence’. Therefore, scientists consider LTL a strong marker for ‘biological age’, independent from when an individual was born.
Although the relationship between telomere length and disease is not fully understood, the build-up of these senescent cells is believed to contribute to a range of symptoms we associate with ageing, such as frailty and age-related diseases.
Data from wrist-worn wearable activity tracking devices used to measure habitual physical activity also supported a stronger role of habitual activity intensity (e.g. faster walking) in relation to telomere length.
The study “suggests measures such as a habitually slower walking speed are a simple way of identifying people at greater risk of chronic disease or unhealthy ageing, and that activity intensity may play an important role in optimising interventions”, said Dr Paddy Dempsey, Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University.