The aim of this systematic review is to assess the effects of exercise on telomeres length. We searched the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library), Scopus, LILACS, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science from inception to August 2014. All articles that assessed the effects of exercise in telomere length were included in this review. The search strategy used the following combinations of terms: telomere AND "motor activity" OR exercise OR "physical activity". Two reviewers, working independently, screened all titles and abstracts to identify studies that could meet inclusion criteria. Whenever possible, and if appropriate, we performed a random-effect meta-analysis of study outcomes. Thirty-seven original studies were included in this systematic review, including 41,230 participants. Twenty articles did not find statistically significant association, whereas 15 described a positive association. Two papers found an inverted "U" correlation. There is a tendency toward demonstrating an effect of exercise on telomere length. Few prospective studies were found, many studies did not reach statistical significance and there was an important methodological diversity. For this reason, a possible significant association between physical activity and telomere length remains an open question.
Keywords: Aging; Physical activity; Physical exercise; Telomere length.
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