MU Extension specialists says excessive sitting ages a person

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Study looks at 1,500 women who wore motion sensors

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests too much sitting and too little exercise may actually speed up biological aging by as much as eight years.

In the study, a group of almost 1,500 women (average age 79) wore motion sensors for one week. At the end of the week, the individuals that spent both more time sitting, and less than 30 minutes a day in some form of physical activity had a higher association with the biological marker of shortened telomeres.

Telomeres are caps that protect the ends of DNA strands. They shorten with age but other factors, like exercise, can affect the rate.

"We've known that inactivity is bad for health, but this new finding is eye-opening," said Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health education specialist for University of Missouri Extension. "It should make us all take a step back and re-evaluate how we spend our working and leisure time."

Shortened telomere length is also associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes and major cancers.

"It's an easy fix," Stevenson said. "We just need to spend less time in sedentary activities like watching TV or sitting at a desk, and spend more time each day doing intentional physical activity."

To decrease sedentary time at work, people can try standing while talking on the phone, or get up at least once every hour to take a short walk or do simple exercises at a desk.

To decrease sedentary time at home, people can spend more time outside, start a garden, find a friend or neighbor to walk and talk with, or volunteer to walk dogs at a local animal shelter.

Lastly, make physical activity enjoyable. It could be swimming, tennis, biking, or even walking while golfing instead of driving the cart. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.