Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Recovery from Stressful Phase

Prolonged stress is a major contributor to biological (premature) aging.  One measure of biological aging, which differs from chronological aging, is telomere length.  Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes.

Research has shown that four recovery practices help us recuperate from a stressful period in our life:

  • Exercise,
  • Adequate Sleep,
  • Eating Healthfully, and
  • Socializing.

The fight-or-flight stress response focuses us on survival.  Stress hormones are designed to help us perform under stress, but they cause mental and physical health problems when they persist. 

Takeaway:  Various studies have shown that:

  • Exercise can protect telomere length,
  • Without 7-9 hours of sleep, telomere length decreases,
  • Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables appears to protect telomere length, and
  • Strong relationships help lower inflammatory proteins, which lower the risk of biological aging.

Well-being is a journey, not a quick fix


Loewe, E., Chronic Stress Causes Serious Damage – But is it Reversible?, MBG Health, Nov. 5, 2021,

Ornish, D., et al., Effect of Comprehensive Lifestyle Changes on Telomerase Activity and Telomere Length in Men with Biopsy-Proven Low-Risk Prostate Cancer: 5-Year Follow-up of a Descriptive Pilot Study, The Lancet, Sept. 17, 2013,

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