One of the main reasons people choose to work out regularly is to maintain better all-round health and fitness, particularly as we feel the sands of time taking their inevitable effect. But studies conducted at Saarland University in Germany suggests that perhaps those effects are not so inevitable after all.

A regular exercise routine can actually stimulate the human anti-ageing gene, leading to cellular rejuvenation and meaning that you look and feel younger. Let’s take a look at the science behind the claims, and how you can design a workout for that youthful effect.

Protecting your DNA

The study examined 32 young professional runners, and compared them with middle-aged athletes who had maintained a regular exercise routine throughout their lives. They then evaluated these two groups against a “control group” of similarly aged individuals who were fit and healthy, but did not exercise regularly.

The research concluded that regular intensive exercise works to prevent the shortening of telomeres — these are genetic “bookends”  that protect your chromosomes, much like the cap that protects a shoelace from fraying.

As telomeres get shorter, the cells age and eventually die. But regular exercise was found to activate an enzyme called telomerase, which stabilizes telomeres and effectively slows the ageing process.

The anti-ageing workout

So what kind of workout should you be taking to unleash the telomerase and stay young-looking? Any regular moderate-intense exercise regime could soon see you reaping the benefits, but in particular, focus on a variety of multidimensional exercises, such as squats and overhead presses.

Also, running, jumping and cycling, either in the great outdoors or on a stationary exercise bike or treadmill, bring diverse benefits. As well as increasing telomerase production, they improve your cardiovascular fitness leading to a healthier heart and can, in addition, help you to improve your bone mass, meaning less chance of osteoporosis later in life.

Finally, don’t forget the important areas of rest, warm up and warm down. Take a five minute time out for every 30  minutes of exercise to allow your body to soak up the benefits, and remember to incorporate stretching routines at the beginning and end of your work out.

Follow these important steps and you too can remain young, fit and healthy, inside and out, in your later years!