If you’re looking to age prematurely, there’s one formula that scientists say is a sure thing: sit more and move less.
A University of California study, published
in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that older women who sit for more than 10 hours a day and do little physical activity have cells that are eight years older than more active women of the same age.
Lead study author Aladdin Shadyab from the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine said
, "Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn't always match biological age.”
To talk in science-speak, women who did under 40 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise have shorted telomeres. These are the things found on the ends of DNA strands that guard the chromosomes from deteriorating too quickly. As we age, the telomeres start to shorten.
What makes them shorten even faster? Habits like smoking, obesity and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Shortened telomeres are also linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
So, in effect, less active women aged between 64 and 95 age faster.
"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."