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Jun 26

Sedentary Lifestyle Speeds Biological Aging; American Journal of Epidemiology


January 20, 2017


Elderly women who were sedentary 10 hours or more per day had biologically "older" cells compared with women who exercised, according to new research from University of California San Diego Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.


The negative affects of a sedentary lifestyle are well known, but the new research investigates the impact on elderly women. Cells age at different rates, influenced by lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, and exercise. Among other things, cells contain repetitive sections of DNA called telomeres. Telomeres help protect chromozomes from deteriorating. Telomere length has been associated with aging. As people age, telomeres get shorter; short telomere length has been associated with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


The researchers evaluated the link between telomere length and sedentary time in nearly 1,500 elderly women, average age of 79. They found that women who were sedentary for more than 10 hours per day had biologically "older" cells than women who exercised more and were less sedentary. Low physical activity accounted for an 8-year difference. The sedentary women were biologically 8 years older.


"Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle....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," said Aladdin Shadyab, Ph.D., lead author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.