A sedentary lifestyle can age a person’s body by eight years, a new study claimed. Too much sitting throughout the day can lead to many diseases including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, even an early death. Inactivity causes weight gain, a leading factor in these deadly diseases. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology stated that a sedentary lifestyle could affect a person at the cellular level.
Many physicians believe that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of health problems. Nearly 50 million people in the U.S. have a sedentary lifestyle which can lead to an early death. Without regular physical activity, those with a sedentary lifestyle can lead to many preventable causes of death. A lack of physical activity can lead to anxiety, heart disease, migraines, depression, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.
Aladdin Shadyab, the lead scientist of the study and a University of California San Diego post-doctoral fellow in family medicine and public health, researched the effect of sitting and what it can do to the chromosomes due to a sedentary lifestyle, according to TIME. The researchers took samples of blood from 1,500 older women who were signed up for the Women’s Health Initiative and looked at the telomeres which are the region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome. They are packed with DNA in every cell. The Women’s Health Initiative is a study that looks at chronic diseases in post-menopausal women.
As a cell ages, they lose telomeres making the length a marker for its actual age. Comparing telomere length to time exercised, the researchers sought out if physical activity affected the aging process. Relying on recording the physical activity of participants rather than asking about it, Shadyab studied the data from accelerometers they wore. His team focused on women who were not participating in daily moderate-to-vigorous activity for 30 minutes, at least, and this is where trends began to appear.
Women who spent their time sedentary (ten hours or more) had shorter telomeres than women who spent less time sitting, the study found. This shortened telomeres added eight years of aging to their bodies. Others who exercised 30 minutes suggested that physical activity may counteract the shortening connected with aging.
More research was needed to establish how much physical activity is needed to nullify aging. Speaking with Medical News Today, Shadyab said that the study “found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age does not always match biological age.”
By Cheryl Werber