Have you ever heard of something called telomeres? These are the protective caps on your DNA that guard you from the aging process. And they are vitally important to your overall health and well-being.
You see, every time your cells divide your telomeres get shorter. The shorter they get, the faster you age. And when they run down entirely your cells stop dividing altogether. They just die. This, in turn, can reduce your lifespan.
Shorter telomeres are also associated with many age related diseases—like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia. So it’s very important to keep these DNA-protectors from shortening.
A new study shows exactly how you can do that, and it’s surprisingly simple to do: Don’t sit too much.
This small study included 49 sedentary and overweight people in their late 60s. Half of them took part in a tailored exercise program for six months. The other have were left to their own devices. Telomere length was measured at the beginning and end of the six month period, and the results were quite interesting.
The time spent exercising increased in the first group. And sitting time decreased in both of the groups. However, lengthening was significantly associated with reduced sitting time—much more so than the increased physical activity.
Risk factors for heart disease and stroke also improved in both groups, but more so in the exercise group. That group also lost the most weight.
“In many countries formal exercise may be increasing, but at the same time people spend more time sitting,” write the researchers. “We hypothesize that a reduction in sitting hours is of greater importance than an increase in exercise time for elderly risk individuals.”
If you spend a lot of time sitting, try breaking it up. Get up and walk around the house during television commercials. Stay standing whenever you’re on the telephone.
Better yet, get out of the house completely and do something you enjoy. Play with the dog, walk around the mall, work in the garden, visit the grandkids… or anything else that gets you up and moving.