How sitting down could actually be making you age faster

22 January 2017

Women who spend a lot of their time sitting down could be accelerating the aging process.

While many of us spend hours on end sitting at a computer, before going home and replacing an office chair with our sofa, new research suggests how harmful this can be to our bodies, especially in ladies over the age of 64.

In a study lead by Dr Aladdin Shadyab, of the University of California, a team of experts analysed the movements of 1,481 women, all over 64 with an average age of 79, for a week using a movement recording gadget called accelerometers. As well as the information from the accelerometers, blood tests were also taken to look at the health of the participants’ cells.

Read more: These unhealthy habits could shave years off your life

The scientists were able to see that the women who moved the least had the most damage to their cells, and had shorter, more frayed telomeres. Telomeres are found at the end of DNA and protect chromosomes from deterioration.

But it is possible to undo the damage of sitting for too long with the help of exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can give the cells the boost they need.

Read more: Late retirement = better health in old 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,” Dr. Shadyab noted.

“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.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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