Heavy exercise could be the secret to living longer, scientists claim.
A study found that strenuous physical activity - like running a marathon can stop cells dying and keep bodies healthy till old age, reports express.co.uk .
Scientists hope that finding a drug to slow cell death - a process called apoptosis could help prevent people from ageing completely.
They discovered that apoptosis is stopped after heavy exercise. Their findings suggest this is because a gene called sirtuin - an anti-ageing protein looks after the cells during exercise.
This could mean that certain cells which cannot normally re-generate, such as skeletal muscular cells, can be protected by exercise.
The scientists studied amateur athletes after a 26-mile run, looking at cells in the blood that are critical for helping the immune system to fight infection.
They found that the balance between the slowing of cell death changed after the race.
Matteo Russo, one of the researchers, said: "Sirtuins are genes that alone can increase the survival rates of mammals, including may be man".
"They are very important because they are involved in the link in maintaining tissues which usually don`t proliferate. We hope that this kind of single link can be useful for successful ageing, which is very important," he added.