Slow Aging With Activity


There has been a lot of talk about telomeres in the last few years, especially looking at the correlation between the length of the telomeres and biological age.  Telomeres are repetitive pieces of DNA that are at the end of our chromosomes.  They are like little caps at the ends of our DNA strands to protect the chromosome.  It’s analogous to the way a shoelace tip prevents the shoelace from fraying.  As people age, the telomere becomes shorter and shorter until the cell dies.  Short telomeres have been linked to cancer, heart disease, rapid aging, and other diseases.  Some lifestyle activities such as smoking, ingestion of alcohol and stress can also cause the cells to die off quicker.

Many scientists and researchers have been looking for ways to either halt the progression of telomere shortening or even lengthen them.  Most are looking at different supplements and natural herbs as a means of doing this.  Now, a recent study has found a link between exercise, sedentary time, and telomeres. 

The study was conducted on elderly women and looked at the age of their cells in relation to the amount of physical activity they performed daily. A lifestyle is considered sedentary if there is no physical activity or very irregular physical activity.  Unfortunately, even amongst our youth, more people are opting for watching tv, working on a computer or other electronic equipment rather than spending time moving, gardening, or walking.  Many of us also work in an environment where we are sitting for most of the day.  

In this recent study, those who exercised for less than 40 minutes daily or who were sedentary for over 10 hours daily had cells that were biologically older than women who exercised more.  How much older you say?  8 years older!!  

**Interestingly though, women who sat for longer periods of time, say for work, were protected from having short telomeres if they did exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. 

So what does that mean for you?  I think this is actually great news!!  There’s finally a way that you can slow aging with something that you have control over daily.  How do you incorporate this exercise into your life, especially if you have limited time already?  Start with baby steps and work your way up.  First off, try to stand for at least 1 minute every hour.  Make sure to take the stairs and park far from the door to get in more movement.  Try joining a class with some friends to make it fun and keep you accountable.  If you must watch that daily sitcom you love, invest in a recumbent bike so that you can get in some movement while you are watching. Get a FitBit or activity monitor and aim for 10,000 steps per day.  Walking don’t have to train for a marathon to make noticeable changes in your DNA.

Okay everyone, let’s get moving to stay even younger!!  Tell me how it goes and what your favorite “trick” for keeping the movement going through the day is. 




Article Reference:

Associations of accelerometer-measured and self-reported sedentary time with leukocyte telomere length in older women, Aladdin H. Shadyab et al., American Journal of Epidemiology, doi:10.1093/aje/kww196, published online 19 January 2017.