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Growing evidence suggests that regular moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with an attenuation of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening. However, more controversy exists regarding higher exercise loads such as those imposed by elite-sport participation.


The authors investigated LTL differences between young elite athletes (n = 61, 54% men, age [mean ± SD] 27.2 ± 4.9 y) and healthy nonsmoker, physically inactive controls (n = 64, 52% men, 28.9 ± 6.3 y) using analysis of variance (ANOVA).


Elite athletes had, on average, higher LTL than control subjects, 0.89 ± 0.26 vs 0.78 ± 0.31, P = .013 for the group effect, with no significant sex (P = .995) or age effect (P = .114).


The results suggest that young elite athletes have longer telomeres than their inactive peers. Further research might assess the LTL of elite athletes of varying ages compared with both age-matched active and inactive individuals.

Muniesa, Verde, Diaz-Ureña, Santiago, Gómez-Gallego, Pareja-Galeano, and Lucia are with the European University, Madrid, Spain. Gutiérrez and Díaz are with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, Spanish Sports Council Medical Center, Madrid, Spain. Soares-Miranda is with the Research Center in Physical Activity Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.

Pareja-Galeano ( is corresponding author.