Sedentary Physical ActivityAccording to Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, elderly women whose physical activity is sedentary, sitting for longer than 10 hours per day, cells are biologically aged by eight years than elderly women that are more physically active.

In a study, published on January 18 by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers learned that elderly women that do not include at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily and are sedentary for over 10 hours per day experience shorter telomeres — these are the tiny caps located on the end of DNA strands that shorten with age and are intended to protect chromosomes from deterioration. Shortened telomeres are linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and major cancers. Unhealthy lifestyles like smoking, excessive drinking, and obesity can significantly accelerate this process.

Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, lead author of the study with the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, attribute his team’s research to being the first to objectively measure how the combination of exercise and sedentary time impact the aging biomarker.

According to Shadyab, “Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age” and results of the study concluded 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”.

Therefore, “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”.

Approximately 1,500 women between the ages of 64 and 95 are a part of the larger organization, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which investigates the determinants of chronic diseases in postmenopausal women. The participants of the study completed questionnaires and wore accelerometers for seven consecutive days, to track their movements during their awake and sleeping hours.

Shadyab and his research team’s future studies will also examine how exercise is linked to telomere length in men and younger populations.

Reference: Aladdin H. Shadyab et al. Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women. American Journal of Epidemiology, January 2017 DOI: