A team of researchers from the University of California recently confirmed what similar past studies found in regard to how sedentarism plays a part in one’s aging process. The subjects were 1,500 women who previously enrolled in a long-term study of chronic affections in post-menopausal individuals. The Women’s Health Initiative survey focused primarily on the tips of tightly packed DNA in every cell, known as the telomeres.
Spending most of the day sitting or not performing some kind of physical exercise for at least half an hour has been linked to various heart conditions and other diseases such as diabetes. Weight gain comes only natural for a person who does not engage in physical activities regularly, as sedentarism promotes fat tissue buildup. Also, strokes, unhealthy blood sugar levels, hypertension, and heart attack are other conditions that have been previously associated with the lack of physical activity.
The new findings, in detail, have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. According to past studies, as cells age, the length of the telomeres shortens. As a result, analyzing the length of the telomeres could indicate how old a cell is, and indirectly, the subject’s age whom it belongs to.
Aladdin Shadyab and his team took blood samples from 1,500 elderly women and looked at the length of the telomeres in their cells. Also, the subjects were asked how many time a week they put aside for physical activity. As self-reporting does not yield the best results, Aladdin Shadyab equipped each subject with an accelerometer for the duration of the study to accurately observe the levels of physical activity the individuals subjected themselves to.
During the first stages of the trials, he did not necessarily see any connection between physical activity and telomere’s length. However, when he looked at subjects who led a sedentary lifestyle and fell short of the 30-minute recommended amount of moderate physical activity, he noticed the subjects had shorter telomeres.
The amount of shortening observed by the researchers tallied roughly eight years of aging. This means that those who spend 10 hours or more per day sitting idle were, biologically, eight years older than their counterparts who otherwise engaged in physical activity regularly. However, more research is needed as, at this point, researchers cannot tell for sure how much exercise one needs in order to counteract the effects of aging.
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