We sit and grow old
Sitting still accelerates aging, scientists have found
Observations of the health of elderly women have shown that a sedentary or recumbent lifestyle accelerates cell aging at the genetic level, scientists say in an article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Shadyab et al., Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women).
"Our study shows that cells age faster if a person adheres to a sedentary lifestyle. The actual age does not always reflect the biological age, in some cases a person ages faster than time goes by," said Aladdin Shadyab from the University of California at San Diego (USA).
Telomeres are the end sections of chromosomes located in the nucleus of each cell of the human body. Telomeres protect DNA from damage. With each cell division, they become shorter, and when their length is not enough for a new division, the cell dies.
Relatively recently, scientists have discovered that the length of telomeres and their condition can change not only with age, but also as a result of various processes in the body associated with depression, poverty and stress. In particular, an increase in the number of oxidants and other aggressive molecules in cells leads to an abnormally rapid reduction in the length of telomeres, and, accordingly, to their accelerated aging.
Shadiyab and his colleagues found another factor that can accelerate the reduction of telomeres – a sedentary lifestyle. They made this discovery by observing the health of almost one and a half thousand elderly women aged 64 to 95 years. The women agreed to take tests and collect data on how much time they spend at home or on the street using accelerometer bracelets.
As it turned out, the length of telomeres in elderly American women depended mainly on two factors – how much they sat, and how often they did sports or just light exercises.
Women who sat for about 10-13 hours a day had telomeres that were on average 170 "letters" shorter than normal. Accordingly, they were almost 9 years older biologically than their peers, who led a more active lifestyle.
On the other hand, this process is even more strongly influenced by physical exercise – just 30 minutes of charging was enough for the telomeres of "sedentary" women to shrink at the same rate as the "tails" of chromosomes in more active participants of the experiment.
According to Shadiyab, telomere reduction is associated not only with rapid aging, but also with the development of senile diseases, including neurodegenerative brain diseases, cancer, problems with bone fusion and wound healing, and other diseases. Accordingly, promoting a healthy lifestyle and charging among pensioners can help them prolong their lives and reduce the burden on the social security system.
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