Did you know that sitting for a long time makes you age eight years prematurely?

The conclusions of a large study just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology show that prolonged sitting also accelerates the aging of our DNA. This study is the first to have studied the effects of this form of sedentary lifestyle on cell aging and specifically on the telomeres that protect our chromosomes.

Sitting for long periods doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease, but also reduces life expectancy. The deleterious effects of overly sedentary behavior and excessively prolonged sitting during the day have been the subject of a whole series of articles and studies: a large study by Cornell University, in particular, carried out on more than 90,000 postmenopausal women, has already demonstrated the increase in mortality with a prolonged sedentary lifestyle.

Deleterious effects of too sedentary behavior

Very recently, a whole special edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine highlighted the deleterious effects of too sedentary behavior and too much sitting during the day. Not only does this series of articles remind us that while lack of physical exercise is often involved in many pathological processes, prolonged sitting is also a risk factor in its own right.

Prolonged sitting shortens telomeres

Here the study conducted by teams from many American institutions focused on telomeres, these caps that protect the chromosomes of human cells. Telomeres provide protection to chromosomes during the replication process to prevent the loss of DNA strands. However, with aging, telomere length decreases. Longer telomeres are generally associated with better health and higher longevity, shorter telomeres with cellular aging.

Sitting causes premature aging by 8 years

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Researchers from the University of California, Washington, Florida, San Diego State University, State University of New York, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, George Washington University, and Northwestern University conducted this study in 1,481 women aged 65 and over, participating in the Women’s Health Initiative cohort, to look at the association between time spent sitting and telomere length.

“Sitting for a long time makes you age”

Physical activity was measured by accelerometer, and DNA samples were analyzed to assess telomere length. Finally, the researchers took into account other possible factors: age, ethnic origin, level of education, marital status, smoking and alcohol consumption, BMI, chronic diseases, the use of certain medications…

The analysis shows that participants who engaged in less than 40 minutes of physical activity per day, those who sat the longest (i.e. 10 hours or more per day) during the day had shorter telomeres by an average of 170 pairs of basics. However, our telomeres shorten at a rate of 21 base pairs per year, therefore: this shrinkage observed with this form of sedentary lifestyle is equivalent to an aging of 8 years!

On the other hand, in women who practice at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, the time spent sitting seems to have no effect on telomere length.

So a prolonged sedentary lifestyle and insufficient physical activity combine to shorten the length of telomeres and accelerate the aging of our DNA and our cells, too.

To protect your telomeres and slow down the effects of aging, or even reverse them by lengthening your telomeres, read our articles on this fascinating subject and the solutions that exist:

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Dr. Paul Fabricy

and on the only telomere protective dietary supplement studied in the laboratory (Institut Pasteur):

DNA Telocomereactive

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology January 18 2017 DOI: 10.1093/aje/kww196 Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women.


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