Women: All Sitting and No Exercise Leads to Aging Faster
Scientists recently reported that older women sitting for at least 10 hours a day and who have little physical activity have cells that are older by eight years in comparison to women who are less sedentary.
The study, which can be found in January’s issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that elderly women who exercised less than 40 minutes a day (and were also sedentary for 10 or more hours) have shorter telomeres. Telomeres are tiny regions of what are called nucleotides and they are at the end of each chromosome. If your eyes just started to glaze over and you aren’t a science person, like most of us, you are not alone. In everyday language, telomeres function like a cap that protects the chromosome from deterioration.
What you need to know is that telomeres naturally shorten and get frazzled as a cell gets older but there are factors that can increase the speed of that process, causing your cells to be older than your body. Some factors that are attributed to causing telomeres to shorten at an increased rate include diabetes, major cancers and cardiovascular disease. A sedentary lifestyle is also associated with many of these conditions, as well.
Aladdin Shadyab, PhD who co-authored the published study at the UC San Diego School of Medicine says “Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age.”
The research team says the study is the first to neutrally measure how sedentary time combined with low or lack of exercise can influence aging in a cellular way.
The study monitored 1,500 women, ages 64 to 95. The women were surveyed and answered questions via a questionnaire. For seven days, they also wore an accelerometer on their right hip. They were asked to wear the accelerometer while awake and asleep.
One important note here is that exercise and movement seems to play a part in how fast our cells age.
“We found that women who sat longer did not have shorter telomere length if they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, the national recommended guideline,” said Shadyab.
So, even though some of the women may have sat for many hours, it was found that if they exercised regularly, their telomeres were not shorter than the women who did not exercise.
In a way, we’ve just learned how we can prevent faster aging. This also drives home the point that we need to encourage ourselves and our children to keep exercise a routine part of their life, just as important as eating or drinking.
Hmmmm….. we think it’s time for a walk!