Does playing sports slow down aging?

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Does playing sports slow down aging?

Will regular physical training slow down the aging of our body and make us live a few years longer? Research shows that it can.

What is aging?

First of all, we should think about what aging is? It is a biological process which consists in gradual, slow accumulation of cellular damage. This results in irreversible changes in organs and tissues. This translates into an imbalance in the body and leads to a gradual decrease in immunity and performance, loss of muscle and bone tissue, impaired regenerative processes, reduced skin elasticity, hearing and vision impairment, malabsorption, development of chronic inflammation, and graying and hair loss.

As a result of the deterioration of systems and organs, there is a reduced ability to fight infection and injury, respond to environmental stress and maintain homeostasis. With the passage of time, the risk of various age-related diseases increases significantly. These include the nervous system (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease), the circulatory system (atherosclerosis and hypertension), the respiratory system (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and the organ of vision (macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cholesteatoma). Moreover, elderly people are much more likely to suffer from type II diabetes and various types of cancer.

Sport and aging

The relationship between practicing sports and the aging process of the body is regularly studied by scientists from around the world.

Experts from the University of Saarland in their recent tests took under the magnifying glass telomeres, i.e. the structures inside the cell that are responsible for its aging and subsequent death. The results showed that telomeres in athletes who have trained regularly throughout their lives are much healthier than in the rest of the population. This is particularly evident in leukocytes, which are immune cells useful in fighting a number of different diseases.

In turn, research conducted in Sweden has shown that sport not only contributes to maintaining proper heart condition, but also increases the intelligence quotient. This is confirmed by much better academic achievements of physically active students.

It is also worth referring here to the research of British scientists from Ball State University, who managed to prove that it does not matter at what age we start our adventure with sport. The most important thing is to train regularly. Their tests have shown that people who practice sports throughout their lives are in better shape and have healthier bodies than younger people. The study examined the cardiovascular health of 80-year-olds who had been training regularly for many years and 40-year-olds who had a sedentary lifestyle and did not exercise. As it turned out, the former had the same cardiovascular fitness as the younger subjects.

Diet and aging of the body

Environmental and genetic conditions, lifestyle, stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes, stress and taking some medications, among other things, may influence the aging process. In order to slow it down a bit, apart from regular physical activity, it is worth taking care of a proper diet. The aging process is enhanced by a diet rich in saturated fat, simple carbohydrates and trans isomers. Their sources include sweets, fast food, fried foods and highly processed food. To prevent excessive oxidation of cell structures, it is worth to make sure that our daily diet contains products rich in antioxidants. Vegetables and fruits, among others, fall into this category.

Featured Image: Freepik

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