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Endurance sports keep our cells young
Sport is generally said to have a positive effect on the organism, but there are clear differences between the individual sports. In a current study at the University Hospital Leipzig, the differences in the effects of endurance sports and strength training on cellular aging processes were examined - with a clear result.
The study on the anti-aging effects of strength training and endurance sports makes it clear that cellular aging can be significantly slowed down by endurance training, but no comparable effect can be observed after pure strength training, according to the Leipzig University Hospital. The results of the research team led by Professor Ulrich Laufs, director of the cardiology clinic at Leipzig University Hospital, were published in the "European Heart Journal".
Molecular and cellular effects of sport examined
In their clinical-experimental study, the researchers “examined and compared the molecular and cellular effects of physical activity.” A total of 266 healthy volunteers with an average age of 50 years and no previous sports experience were examined for the study. As part of the study, the participants completed a precisely metered, controlled and monitored training session over six months, each with three 45-minute sessions per week. Before and after the study, stress tests and blood samples were taken to isolate cells from the blood.
Telomerase activity and telomer length positively influenced
Using the blood cells, the scientists were able to demonstrate that the forms of endurance sport (aerobic training and high-intensity interval training) investigated favorably influenced important regulators of cell aging - namely the telomerase activity and the telomer length. Since these two factors are essential indicators of the aging process of the cells and their ability to regenerate, the effect is to be understood as a kind of rejuvenation for the cells. However, no corresponding effect was observed during the strength training, the study leader Professor Laufs continued.
Endurance sports with positive precautionary effects
The cardiologists at the Leipzig University Hospital were able to show that endurance training such as running, cycling or swimming counteracts cellular aging, whereas no such effect occurs after pure strength training. A good two years ago, a research team at the University Hospital of Saarland Homburg / Saar came to the same assessment on the question “Endurance or weight training: what makes us younger?”. The current "results show that targeted training can have a clear positive preventive effect", while strength training with regard to cell aging remains ineffective, explains Professor Laufs.
Strength training makes sense as a supplement
Cardiovascular cell aging, according to the expert, can be positively influenced by endurance training. In the future, the cellular response could also be measured and controlled during the different training units, the researchers hope. Based on the current results, however, with regard to heart health, it can be clearly said today that strength training may be a supplement to endurance training, but not a substitute. (fp)