Get Off the Couch to Protect Your Cells

Talking on the phone? Get up and walk around while you chat! It’s never too late to add more physical activity to our lives.

A host of recent studies have shown that sitting is very bad for our health—especially as we grow older. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers noted that for people over 60, every additional hour spent sitting each day raises the risk of disability by 50 percent! Even people who exercise regularly are affected if they spend the rest of the day sitting.

Prolonged sitting has also been found to raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and stroke, reducing the quality and even the length of our lives. A University of Illinois study headed by neuroscientist Agnieszka Burzynska used sophisticated imaging to show that the brains of seniors who sit around most of the day have less of the white matter that enables communication between the brain regions responsible for memory, language, hearing and seeing.

And in January 2017, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine reported that inactivity affects older adult even down to the cellular level! Said lead author Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, “Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age.”

The study compared the cells of 1,500 women aged 64 to 95. The researchers found that elderly women who are sedentary for more than 10 hours per day and get little exercise have shorter telomeres, described by the team as “tiny caps found on the ends of DNA strands, like the plastic tips of shoelaces, that protect chromosomes from deterioration and progressively shorten with age.” Our telomeres do inevitably shorter as we grow older, but the process is speeded up by inactivity and other factors such as obesity and smoking. Shorter telomeres raise our risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

So, if you’re not motivated to exercise for your weight or energy level, do it for your cells! Shadyab reported that the study subjects who exercised for at least 30 minutes each day did not have shorter telomere length. He said, “Discussions about the benefits of exercise should start when we are young, and physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old.”

Everyone can benefit from exercise! The Alden Network promotes a healthy lifestyle through a full program of activities to enhance the physical, emotional and cognitive well-being of each individual, no matter their age or health condition.

Source:  IlluminAge Communication Partners

The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that’s right for you.