Everybody wants to live longer, live better, and extend life. Aside from living a healthy life, there are things we can do to limit the effects of the aging process so we can stay youthful for longer and experience a better quality of life as we age.
Today we will talk about some effects that sprinting has on the aging process, as well as some supplements that can prevent aging so we can live longer lives with a higher quality of life.
Telomere Length And Aging
A telomere is a portion of repetitive DNA sequences which sit at the end of chromosomes. Telomeres work by protecting the ends of chromosomes, so that your DNA replication process happens with minimal negative effects. When telomeres become too short, cells can no longer divide and the cell dies.
According to Frontiers in Genetics, telomere shortening is a hallmark of cell senescence and aging of an organisms. Senescence is a process where a cell’s life cycle is halted. This can be good in the case of a cancer cell that needs to die off, but is not good when it happens to normal cells.
While many factors are at play, preventing the shortening of telomeres and keeping our telomeres long is one way that we can prevent aging. Therefore, we must ask, how can we lengthen or maintain the length of telomeres in our body to prevent aging?
Sprinting Delays Aging
A group of Brazilian scientists ran a study that looked at the telomere length of master’s sprinters compared to a control group. The sprinters ranged in age from 40 to 70 years old, all of them being fairly competitive in their age groups. The sprinters had been active for at least 10 years prior to the study.
In looking at the two groups of sprinters and non-sprinters, the sprinters showed significantly longer telomeres than that of the control group. Furthermore, the fastest masters sprinters had the longest telomeres.
The sprinters with longer telomeres showed a smaller reduction in sprinting performance as their ages increased. Taken together, this suggests there is a relationship between telomere length, sprinting ability, and the aging process.
The researchers admit that they do not know the causal relationship between telomere length and sprinting, meaning that sprinting may increase telomere length or telomere length itself may increase sprinting performance.
The researchers stated that the results of the study do indicate that high intensity training, such as in the form of sprint training, does have a beneficial effect on the bio-molecular level, including in middle-aged adults such as the masters sprinters in the study.
They suggest that high intensity training like sprinting should be performed by adults, and older adults, as a way to mitigate the aging process.
I found this quote particularly interesting:
"Telomere length may be pivotal not only as a marker of health status, as previously described, but also as a predictor of sports performance and longevity of master sprinters, with a higher telomere length being associated with a better actual performance level, while a shorter telomere length was associated with a higher rate of performance decline (%) per decade."
Could it be possible that by increasing our telomere length we actually sprint faster? Maybe sprinting itself is increasing the telomere length. Either way, sprinting should be something that more adults incorporate in their exercise program, both for the physical performance benefits and the anti-aging aspects.
Supplements For Anti-Aging
Now, if we are already sprinting for exercise and getting anti-aging benefits from that, the question becomes what else can we do to slow the aging process?
There are certain supplements which research suggests can help maintain telomere length, reduce the effects of aging, and through that possibly extend life.
NMN - Nicotinamide Mononucleotide
Popularized by David Sinclair, NMN or Nicotinamide Mononucleotide, is a supplement that looks very promising as it relates to preventing aging and maintaining telomere length. NMN increases levels of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a coenzyme that is central to metabolic function. NAD helps give you energy from food, but also prevents DNA damage and promotes healthy cellular function.
One study was performed which looked at the effects of short term effects of NMN on metabolism, the microbiome, and telomere length in pre-aging phase mice and middle aged adult humans.
NMN was shown to modify the microbiome of the study participants. More interesting was the fact that NMN supplementation was associated with longer telomeres, and that NMN ingestion could actually increase the length of telomeres. These effects were present within 30 days for humans and 40 days for mice.
“Further, we observed longer T in both the mice and volunteers with NMN supplementation and reported for the first time that NMN could elongate the length of the T in a clinical study, suggesting the potential of NMN use at a pre-aging phase to retard the proceeding of aging.”
Essentially, the researchers suggest that NMN may be useful to take prior to the onset of aging in order to delay any negative effects the aging process.
Resveratrol is another supplement that has been studied thoroughly. Resveratrol has been shown to extend life in mice, as well as having beneficial effects related to cardiovascular health, preventing sarcopenia or age related muscle loss, inhibiting inflammation, improving mitochondrial function, and regulating apoptosis or planned cell death.
Resveratrol helps stimulate Sirtuins, which are cells that regulate cellular senescence and prevent the breakdown of telomeres. These cells are also related to the beneficial effects that calorie restriction and exercise have on health.
Resveratrol supplementation has been shown to extend life and longevity in yeast, fruit flies, and mice. In primates, resveratrol has been shown to protect the cardiovascular system against the effects of high-fat high-sugar diets, as well as improving insulin sensitivity. In humans, resveratrol has been shown to delay cognitive declines associated with Alzheimer’s disease and to help affect the metabolism of obese men.
How To Live Longer, Live Better
Ultimately, if we want to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life as we age, we need to treat our bodies right. Avoiding processed foods, reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, and only eating what you need is a great place to start.
A healthy diet, including some amount of calorie restriction is one practical step we can take. Another is to perform high intensity exercise, such as sprinting, to promote a healthy metabolism, a stress resistant body, and to help prevent a breakdown in telomere length.
Supplements such as NMN and Resveratrol can also be taken to help encourage telomere lengthening, high NAD+, and to help regulate our metabolism overall.
If approached holistically, you can limit the rate at which you age, which not only can extend your lifespan, but improve the quality of life you experience as you get older.
- Bonkowski, M. S., & Sinclair, D. A. (2016). Slowing ageing by design: the rise of NAD+ and sirtuin-activating compounds. Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology, 17(11), 679–690. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrm.2016.93
- Dai, H., Sinclair, D. A., Ellis, J. L., & Steegborn, C. (2018). Sirtuin activators and inhibitors: Promises, achievements, and challenges. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 188, 140–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2018.03.004
- Simoes, H., Sousa, C., dos Santos Rosa, T., da Silva Aguiar, S., Deus, L., Rosa, E., Amato, A., & Andrade, R. (2017). Longer Telomere Length in Elite Master Sprinters: Relationship to Performance and Body Composition. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(14), 1111–1116. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-120345
- Niu, K.-M., Bao, T., Gao, L., Ru, M., Li, Y., Jiang, L., Ye, C., Wang, S., & Wu, X. (2021). The impacts of short-term NMN supplementation on serum metabolism, fecal microbiota, and telomere length in pre-aging phase. Frontiers in Nutrition, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.756243
- Zhou, D. D., Luo, M., Huang, S. Y., Saimaiti, A., Shang, A., Gan, R. Y., & Li, H. B. (2021). Effects and Mechanisms of Resveratrol on Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2021, 9932218. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/9932218