Activity Level Could Be Linked To Cell Age

In a study at multiple U.S. universities, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, it’s recently been reported that women who lead a sedentary lifestyle could have faster aging cells than those who exercise on a regular basis.

What Part of DNA the Study Observed

The research that has lead to this observation was conducted on telomeres, molecules that protect strands of chromosomes from “fraying.” Telomeres are measured by small sections of nucleic acids that make up DNA, known as base pairs. Telomeres shorten each time genetic information is duplicated, this is believed to lead to cell aging and death.

What the Study Involved

Information from 1,5481 women aged 65 and older had their physical activity measured using accelerometers, which measure movement, and gave DNA samples to be tested for telomere length. The women wore their acceleromteres all the time except to bath or swim, as well as recorded their sleep and completed a questionnaire about their physical activity.

What Was Found During the Study

Women in this study who did 40 minutes or exercise or fewer had shorter telomeres by an average of 170 base pairs — that equals roughly eight years. However, telomere length for women who did at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day did not seem linked to sitting time. It is uncertain whether these findings apply to men or younger people. Since the study was for a short period, it’s difficult to tell whether certain women had been more of less active previously in life as well, which could skew results.

While the fact that being more physically active will lead to a healthy lifestyle isn’t news, this study might just show us a glimpse into something new. The study only studied blood cells but, if the results hold true for brain, muscle and other body cells, this could be a big step into research for numerous diseases and illnesses.

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