Sitting Too Long Each Day Speeds Up Aging: What You Can Do About It?
You’re probably aware of all the recent attention in the news that sitting too much can lead to serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Now, a new study shows that sitting too much speeds up the aging process. Researchers studied a group of 1,500 women between the ages of 65 and 95. The study focused on two components of their daily behavior: basic activity levels and amounts of moderate-to-vigorous exercise. Rather than rely on self-reporting, which is notoriously unreliable, the scientists gave the women accelerometers: devices that measure the speed of movement and distance traveled, like the technology that’s featured in many smartphones.
The study revealed that despite each woman’s chronological age, if she had a sedentary lifestyle, her cells aged faster. Women who were tracked as getting less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise and more than 10 hours of sedentary behavior each day had cells that were considered to be eight years older, biologically, than the cells of more active women. The good news is that even if a woman spent more than 10 hours sitting per day as described above, she could avoid accelerated cell aging by getting in at least 30 minutes of designated daily exercise. Alternatively, increasing one’s movement throughout the day can have a beneficial effect.
The study’s lead author, Aladdin Shadyab, from the San Diego’s School of Medicine at the University of California, stated, “Physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old.” Older people tend to engage in less vigorous activity than younger people. So, making an effort to get up and move around during the day while engaging in everyday activities can make a difference when it comes to longevity. You or your loved one can get up and move around with more confidence when you take steps to avoid falls at home and use a medical alert system.
Aside from getting in 30 minutes of exercise five days per week, try to stay active throughout your day. Keep in mind, any activity will benefit you, and even just a little is better than none. Here are some ideas for how you can get in some daily movement:
- Daily Housework: Rather than waiting until the weekend or a designated cleaning day during the week to catch up on housework, clean up your home a little at a time every day. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming and washing windows all help keep you moving around. Do a little every day to prevent yourself from sitting around too long.
- Lift while staying hydrated: Consider putting your drinking water in a gallon jug or a vessel that is heavy enough to provide strengthening benefits each time you pick it up to pour a drink. Get outside. Working in the garden, walking the dog or simply taking a stroll through the neighborhood can all lift your spirits and keep you moving every day. If you are capable of getting down on your hands and knees to pull weeds, do that. Balance on your arms and wrists as you pull the weeds can help to build strength.
- Double duty: Make it a policy to stand up when you are talking on the phone. Walking or pacing around your home as you speak can help you get in some movement as you’re waiting on hold or enjoying a conversation with a friend or family member.
The advantages of frequent physical activity and exercise are significant, including avoiding accelerated cell aging. Even older people with illnesses or those who are frail can reap the benefits of staying as active as possible.