Running Slows Down Aging, Slows Down the Clock


New research indicates that running slows down aging by beefing up protection of our DNA, which degenerates over time, causing many of the body’s aging signs. This is because as we age, telomeres, part of DNA that acts like caps on shoelaces, start to diminish and expose our DNA to change and damage. If you are not familiar with what telomeres are, there is an article about it right below:

Related: Aging Process Is Similar to Replicating CDs: Story of Telomeres

How Running Slows Down Aging

New research is finding that aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming and cycling has the ability to slow down the aging of the human body. The already well known benefits of running are improved cardiovascular function, strengthening of the heart, aid in forging healthy eating habits, as well as improvement in insulin control and having a clearer mind. These benefits already show how running slows down aging; by improving our body and mind overall.

Running shows positive signs at any age. But the real key here as to how running slows down the aging process lies in the protection of our DNA and cells:

Human cells divide at an average of 50-60 times in one lifespan. Every time they divide, the cell’s DNA has to be replicated. That way, a new chromosome can form and be used in the newly duplicated cell. However every time a cell duplicates, it comes at a cost. That is, the chromosomes get shorter and shorter. If they get short enough, the chromosomes can have their twining undone and our genetic data gets corrupted. Eventually, that cell dies. – Aging Process Is Similar to Replicating CDs

Related: What Is Autophagy and How It Slows Down Aging

This is why it is important to keep the telomeres, the shoelace caps for our DNA strands, intact as long as possible, and prevent wear and tear. One study found that sedentary people aged 55-72 had relatively short telomeres compared to sedentary 18-32 year olds. But when comparing people in the 55-72 age group who have exercised all their lives, there was no significant difference in the length of the telomeres between younger people and older athletes.2

Want to stay as healthy and spry as a teenager?  Go for a run.




LaRocca TJ, Seals DR, Pierce GL. (2009). Leukocyte telomere length is preserved with aging in endurance-trained adults and related to maximal aerobic capacity. Mechanisms of aging and development 131(2):165-167

The Benefits of Barefoot Running and Hiking


A huge controversy still rages regarding the benefits and potential injuries associated with barefoot running/hiking. According to recent research at Harvard, it seems more and more likely that barefoot is the way to travel.

Not only does barefoot running allow you to feel more connected to the Earth and trail you are embarking on, it also reduces a wide range of injuries including knee, shin, and hip ailments.  It even helps to build a network of arch support muscles for those of us that have flat feet.

According to the research, runners and hikers need to ensure they also strike with the front of their foot instead of the rear. This reduces stress and force of impact.

The best way to break into the barefoot running scene is to start breaking in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. There are many models to choose from, but as an avid hiker I recommend the KSO Treksports.  If the smell of the shoes ever gets too funky go ahead and throw them in the wash with the rest of your clothes.  Easy peasy.

If you don’t want to look like a goofy primate all the time, you can always look into a model like the trailglove from Merrell.  It is still worn barefoot, and has all the benefits of the Vibrams, without the strange stares people will be offering graciously.

Here’s a quick quote from a friend of mine involved in forestry and wildlife conservation regarding the Vibrams he wore while hiking through Yellowstone National Park:

“GET THESE. They are amazing for my flat footedness. They are the exact opposite of babying your foot like custom orthotics but I’ve hiked over 15 miles a day in these with no problem. Actually just got back from a trip with them. I don’t wear any socks and the level of moisture is way better than any shoes. I crossed countless creeks/rivers in yellowstone with um on and could just keep going when I got out as they eventually dry out.  Also they make hiking more dynamic. No more trudging because you will hurt your feet that way. Ive stubbed a toe once or twice and you know it! I’m 100% bare foot!

-Dan Tekiela