Sedentary lifestyle has measurable effect on cellular age: UCal study

Another study has confirmed what researchers have suspected for years: The best way to slow aging is to get moving.

A new study by The University of California – San Diego explored the relationships between exercise and telomeres, specific segments of chromosomal DNA that are known to shorten with age and disease. The longer the telomeres, the healthier and “younger” the cells are believed to be. The shorter the telomeres, the more susceptible the cells are to disease and cellular death.

What’s cutting your telomeres shorter? Poor lifestyle, including smoking, high alcohol consumption, obesity and stress, all contribute to shortening the telomeres. But, the best advice from researchers is to stop being a couch potato.

Activities that require little movement—including sitting at a work desk, commuting by public transportation and watching TV—add up to a sedentary lifestyle, researchers found. The study’s sample of nearly 1,500 women with an average age of 79.

The higher the amounts of sedentary time, the more likely the person was to have lower physical performance scores and lower health status. Women who had high amounts of sedentary time also tended to be white, obese and older, as well as having a higher incidence of chronic diseases.

Short exercise sessions aren’t as effective in slowing cell aging as longer exercise sessions, especially for women, the study found. And although exercise is healthy, the time spent sitting inactive is detrimental, the study found.

Read the full study as published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Topics: Clinical