Too little exercise may accelerate biological aging
Man has been searching for ways to stay eternally young since he first roamed the planet. The next best thing to actually stopping the aging process, which seems impossible to do, is to slow down aging. Lifestyle factors seem to have a dramatic impact on how we age.
A new study by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine reports that 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity most days of the week may protect against accelerated biological aging caused by too much sitting.
As a cell ages, its telomeres naturally shorten and fray, but health and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and smoking, may accelerate that process. Shortened telomeres are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and major cancers.
Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, who was the lead author of the study and who is with the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, says this study has showed that human cells age faster when a person has a sedentary lifestyle. The chronological age of a person doesn't always match the person's biological age.
Nearly 1,500 women, ages 64 to 95, participated in the study. The women are part of the larger Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a national, longitudinal study investigating the determinants of chronic diseases in postmenopausal women. The participants completed questionnaires and wore an accelerometer on their right hip for seven consecutive days during waking and sleeping hours to track their movements.
"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. Discussions about the benefits of exercise should start when we are young, and physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old." Said Aladdin Shadyab, lead author of the study and postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
Hopefully, the initial findings of this research on the telomere-protecting benefits of physical activity can serve as a fresh source of motivation that inspires you to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigororous physical activity most days of the week regardless of your chronological age or gender.