The effects of short-term combined exercise training on telomere length in obese women: a prospective, interventional study

Sports Med Open. 2020 Jan 16;6(1):5. doi: 10.1186/s40798-020-0235-7.


Background: Telomere length is inversely associated with the senescence and aging process. Parallelly, obesity can promote telomere shortening. Evidence suggests that physical activity may promote telomere elongation.

Objective: This study's objective is to evaluate the effects of combined exercise training on telomere length in obese women.

Design and methods: Twenty pre-menopausal women (BMI 30-40 kg/m2, 20-40 years) submitted to combined training (strength and aerobic exercises), but only 13 finished the protocol. Each exercise session lasted 55 min/day, three times a week, throughout 8 weeks. Anthropometric data, body composition, physical performance (Vo2max), and 8-h fasting blood samples were taken before and after 8 weeks of training. Leukocyte DNA was extracted for telomere length by RT-qPCR reaction, using the 2-ΔΔCt methodology.

Results: After the training intervention, significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in telomere length (respectively before and after, 1.03 ± 0.04 to 1.07 ± 0.04 T/S ratio), fat-free mass (46 ± 7 to 48 ± 5 kg), Vo2max (35 ± 3 to 38 ± 3 ml/kg/min), and waist circumference (96 ± 8 to 90 ± 6 cm). In addition, an inverse correlation between waist circumference and telomere length was found, before (r = - 0.536, p = 0.017) and after (r = - 0.655, p = 0.015) exercise training.

Conclusion: Combined exercise promoted leukocyte telomere elongation in obese women. Besides, the data suggested that greater waist circumference may predict shorter telomere length.

Clinical trial registration:, NCT03119350. Retrospectively registered on 18 April 2017.

Keywords: Combined exercise training; Obesity; Physical Activity; Physical fitness; Telomere length; Waist circumference.

Associated data