The secret to staying young might be as simple as standing up. Okay, it might be more like standing up and then moving around a bit.
New research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that sitting for more than 10 hours a day could increase one’s biological age by up to eight years. So, someone in their 80s who spends most of their day sitting can have the cells of an 88-year-old. Not so nice, huh?
The study looked specifically at the length of a specific telomere, which is the fancy science term for the little bits of DNA that sit at the end of our chromosomes. They’re responsible for how we age, what diseases we could get with age and the severity of said diseases. Over 1,000 women who were, on average, 79-years-old had their telomeres measured for the study.
“Previous studies have shown that shortened telomere length, which can be [broken down quicker] by lifestyle factors like smoking and obesity, is associated with a shortened lifespan, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Aladdin Shadyab, lead author of the study. “But this is the first time we’ve linked sitting and exercise to shortened telomere length.”
And according to this research, all it takes is 30 minutes of “moderate to vigorous activity” per day to keep the telomeres long and healthy. Even participants who sat for the rest of the day after their half an hour of exercise had longer telomeres than their sedentary counterparts.
“This allows us to conclude that an inactive lifestyle has a direct effect on telomere length,” said Shadyab.
Exercise can be daunting at any age, and for seniors, getting up and moving isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Shadyab recommends group classes (so there’s someone depending on you to work out), and opting for regimes that are gentle on an aging body, like tai chi. Or what about Dance Dance Revolution… that’s low-impact, right?