Telo.. what? you might be asking yourself? Telomeres are found at the ends of your chromosomes and protect them from damage. Chromosomes, you might remember from biology class, contain the genes that influence how you look and how your body functions. Your telomeres are like the plastic tips on your shoelaces since they protect the ends of your chromosomes from “fraying” and getting damaged.
So why should you care about all of this? Well, longer telomeres seem to be better at protecting chromosomes and have been associated with a longer life and lower risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The cool thing is that you can increase the length of your telomeres through your lifestyle. One study found that participants who made lifestyle changes like exercising more, eating healthier, and reducing their stress actually increased the lengths of their telomeres! Also, those who didn’t undergo these lifestyle changes had shorter telomeres then those that did. Read more about the research.