Among several recent studies spotlighting the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle is one published by researchers from the University of California at San Diego—and women in particular may want to pay close attention to the results. For the study, nearly 1,500 older women volunteered to wear devices that monitored their daily movement. They were also asked to keep track of how many hours they spent sitting each day. As it turns out, too much sitting may impact healthy aging.
Researchers reached their conclusion by observing the participants’ telomeres, which are found at the end of DNA strands and naturally protect our chromosomes from deterioration as we get older. Although telomeres shorten over time as the result of normal aging, it was determined that too much time sitting accelerated the process and as a result caused the body to age more quickly—by about eight years, to be precise.
Study authors speculate the accelerated aging may have to do with increased inflammation and oxidative stress, since both have been linked to shortened telomeres. Previous studies have also linked shortened telomeres to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
However, there may be a silver lining. “We found that women who sat longer did not have shorter telomere length if they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day,” said lead author Aladdin Shadyab, highlighting the benefits of regular exercise.