You’ve probably heard the drill if your job involves sitting at a desk all day: Stand up, stretch, move around every so often and just do something that takes you out of that “hunched up” position. Pretty simple in theory, but if you still aren’t making it happen, this news is going to propel you into running a midday marathon.
As first published in The Sun and reported on by the New York Post today, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that sitting for more than 10 hours a day (with low physical activity) equates to being biologically older by—gasp!—eight years.
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The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, took a look at nearly 1,500 women, ages 64 to 95 (the group is actually part of a bigger, national study aimed at investigating chronic disease in postmenopausal women). What they found: Women who rack up less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day and who remain sedentary for more than 10 hours (i.e., a day of sitting at your desk) a day have shorter telomeres—those tiny caps on the ends of DNA strands that protect the integrity of chromosomes. According to the Journal, “telomeres progressively shorten with age…shortened telomere length has been associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and major cancers.”
“Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age,” said Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, lead author of the study with the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the school.
“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,” said Shadyab. “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.”
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