For many years now, the major health organizations of the world have been encouraging us to believe that we can exercise a little easier and still get most of the good health benefits. Some have gone as far as saying that even 10 minute chunks of exercise are helpful. While this is true, this has also led to serious misconceptions about what it really takes to lose weight and keep it off. And recently there has been more and more research surfacing that shows even greater benefits from heavier exercise.
A recent study published in the journal Circulation (http://circ.ahajournals.org//) found that strenuous exercise may not only be better for you, but it also has a more dramatic effect on the aging process. Deep into the DNA of your cells, vigorous exercise is promoting longevity primarily by affecting chromosome structures called telomeres, which are found on the ends of your chromosomes and have a significant impact on aging.
Specifically, vigorous exercise helps prevent the telomeres on the ends of your bodys chromosomes from unraveling. Telomeres have been compared with caps on the ends of shoelaces. When they unravel, the result is often disease. Unraveling causes these telomeres to shorten and following these repeated cell divisions, cells die.
As repoted in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal (http://www.jsonline.com/features/health/78162577.html), as people get older, telomeres get shorter, and some research has linked shortened telomeres to higher rates of death from heart disease and infections. Shortened telomeres also have been associated with cognitive problems and certain cancers, although the relationship with cancer is not fully understood.
So, all your hard work and sweat really is worth it. Even if it doesnt seem like it's having an impace at times, your chromosomes always know about it, and you're that much younger as a result.