The delayed aging of elite sprinters
Endurance training and interval training lifespan, we wrote a month ago. Well, that probably also applies to explosive sprint training. Brazilian sports scientists at the Universidade Catolica de Brasilia come to this conclusion in a small human study. According to this study middle aged elite printers have longer telomeres than their healthy peers who do not engage in sport.
The Brazilians determined the length of the telomeres [T/S ratio] in the 11 top sprinters' DNA. [Here we explain wat telomeres are.]
The sprinters were 40-70 years old, and had been active for at least the last 10 years. They had participated in international competitions. Eight of them were South American record holders, six of them had ever been world champions, two of them had won bronze or silver medals at world championships.
The researchers compared the telomere length of the sprinters with those of 10 comparable healthy people who did not participate in sports.
The sprinters as a group had longer telomeres than the study participants in the control group.
Within the group of sprinters the telomere length varied. The longer the telomeres were, the better the sprinters performance and the lower was the decrease in their sprint speed due to the aging process.
The researchers note that multiple interpretations of their findings are possible. Maybe the lifestyle of the sprinters is healthy, and therefore their telomeres are longer. The more and more intensive the sprinters train, the better they perform - and the longer are their telomeres. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe longer telomeres make sprinters better in their sport.
"The possible limitations of this study may include that we could not accurately infer the biological causality of the results", write the Brazilians. "Nevertheless, the results may still indicate that high intensity training programs have a positive effect at the biomolecular level, even in middle-age adults (40-60 years old)."
"As a practical application of the results, we suggest that high intensity training to improve muscle power (such as sprinters training mode) should be encouraged also because of its antiaging effects."
"Telomere length may be pivotal not only as a marker of health status, as previously described, but also as a predictor of sports performance and longevity of master sprinters, with a higher telomere length being associated with a better actual performance level, while a shorter telomere length was associated with a higher rate of performance decline (%) per decade."
Int J Sports Med. 2017 Dec;38(14):1111-6.
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