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Brief Exercise Reduces Impact of Stress on Cell Aging, UCSF Study Shows
Date:5/26/2010

he inactive high stress group had shorter telomeres. The active high stress group did not have shorter telomeres. In other words, stress predicted shorter telomeres in the sedentary group, but not in the active group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week for adults, or 150 minutes of moderate activity in addition to weight-bearing exercises. For children and adolescents, recommended levels are 90 minutes per day. For this sample of older women, it appears that the CDC-recommended level of vigorous exercise for adults may be enough to buffer the effects of stress on telomeres. However, the researchers say, this finding needs to be replicated with larger samples.

"At this point, we have replicated previous findings showing a link between life stress and the dynamics of how cells age,’’ said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, a psychologist in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. “Yet we have extended those findings to show that, in fact, there are things we can do about it. If we maintain the levels of physical activity recommended, at least those put forth by the CDC, we can prevent the unyielding damage that psychological stress may have on our body.’’

“Our findings also reveal that those who reported more stress were less likely to exercise over the course of the study,’’ he said. “While this finding may be discouraging, it offers a great opportunity to direct research to specifically examine these vulnerable stressed individuals to find ways to engage them in greater physical activity.’’

UCSF co-authors of the study reported in PLoS ONE include Jue Lin, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics; Aoife O’Donovan, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry; and Nancy Adler, PhD, a professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry.

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