Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The New Fountain of Youth, Sitting Less

Prolonged Sitting

Could sitting less be a fountain of youth? Research shows those who sit less have cells that are younger.

A link between living longer and sitting less has been drawn by multiple studies but now researchers may have found a reason why. It turns out “sitting less can slow the aging process in cells.”

Swedish researchers asked one group of overweight sedentary 68 year-old men and women to exercise more and sit less. Another similar group, a control group, was encouraged to live healthy lives with no instructions. Blood was drawn for testing. Six months later questionnaires were completed about daily living including sitting. Blood was drawn and compared to that drawn six months earlier. Measured was the change in telomere length in the white blood cells. 

New York Times writer Gretchen Reynolds notes, “If you are unfamiliar with the componentry of your genes, telomeres are the tiny caps on the ends of DNA strands. They shorten and fray as a cell ages, although the process is not strictly chronological. Obesity, illness and other conditions can accelerate the shortening, causing cells to age prematurely, while some evidence suggests that healthy lifestyles may preserve telomere length, delaying cell aging.”

Comparing telomeres of all participants, the telomeres of those who sat the least had lengthened. The telomeres of those in the control group had generally shortened. 

“But perhaps most interesting, there was little correlation between exercise and telomere length. In fact, the volunteers in the exercise group who had worked out the most during the past six months tended now to have slightly less lengthening and even some shortening, compared to those who had exercised less but stood up more.”

It could very well be that the fountain of youth is no further than the chair you leave as you sit less. Be inspired by the study’s results: “Their cells (those who sat the least) seemed to be growing physiologically younger.”

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