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Zap the Aging Effects of Stress in 14 Minutes

Zap the Aging Effects of Stress in 14 Minutes

Few things speed the aging process like chronic stress. It's like adding fuel to an already capable fire. So take a few minutes to undo the damage.

In a small study of middle-aged women, all it took was 14 minutes of vigorous exercise each day to protect cells from the aging effects of stress. You could knock that out with just a brisk mile-and-a-half walk each day.

Sweatin' Away the Oldies
When researchers examined a group of women's telomeres -- those little end caps on chromosomes that reveal a person's rate of aging -- only the women who weren't regular exercisers showed extra aging. A host of things can accelerate the rate at which telomeres age, including stress. But stress seemed to have no noticeable effects in the women who reported getting at least 42 minutes of exercise over a 3-day period -- or about 14 minutes a day.

Don't Forget to Sweat
But not just any kind of exercise. The antiaging benefits in the study came from sweat-inducing, heart-pumping vigorous exercise. Not a slow stroll through the park. Not a leisurely stretching session. For a vigorous workout, think brisk walking, strong stationary cycling, laps in the pool -- or any type of physical exertion that makes it difficult to hold a conversation. Researchers are not sure why exercise helps protect those all-important DNA end caps, but other studies have suggested that regular exercise may help improve the telomere-protecting effects of an enzyme called telomerase. (No time to exercise? Try these time-saving strategies to help carve out extra exercise time.)

Did you know? Exercise also helps strengthen your immune system, improve your heart health, and boost your mood.

Take the first steps to growing younger and healthier with the RealAge Test.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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