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DOES A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE MEAN FASTER AGEING?

DOES A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE MEAN FASTER AGEING?

You may have read that American researchers have been trying to quantify the effects of too much sitting down. This is part of a large scale, long term study into women’s health, although it is of course relevant to everyone.

The newspaper reports are that too much time seated means not just poorer health, but also a shorter life. Could this be true? Do we all just need to move more?

WHAT WAS THE STUDY ABOUT?

The female participants were originally recruited from 1993 at a minimum age of 50. The investigation into movement and time spent sitting was carried out from 2012, so the subjects were all aged at least 70. The researchers analysed DNA from the women to look at structures called telomeres. There is believed to be a correlation between telomere size and cell ageing.

WHAT DID IT SHOW?

The study seems to show that women who spend more time sitting have ‘older’ cells than others. It may not be quite that simple.

The NHS has provided an interesting analysis of the results, pointing out that the tabloid excitement about ‘sitting ages you’ is not exactly what was shown. However the results are good enough to require further investigation.

I AM A LONG WAY OFF ELDERLY – DOES IT MATTER FOR ME?

The human body is not designed to cope well with long periods sitting down. The position can strain the back and compress blood vessels in the legs. This raises blood pressure, which can contribute to heart diseases.

The increase of blood pressure from extended periods seated has been demonstrated even in children, so yes - this is an issue for all of us.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

What you are hopefully doing already – keep moving. As well as time at the gym, add some extra movement to everyday life. The NEAT approach is a good way to incorporate exercise into the working day.

Too much sitting down is not what we are made to do. So all those of us who have the choice – get on your feet with a monthly plus pass!

 

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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