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Less Sitting Linked to Longer Telomeres

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 11:56 PM EDT

Sitting less could lengthen longevity, according to a new DNA study.

The latest study reveals that reducing sedentary activity could lengthen telomeres, the protective caps of chromosomes. This is important as previous studies have linked longevity and healthy lifestyles to telomeres.

The latest study involved 49 participants in their late 60s. Researchers noted that all participants had been part of a previously reported clinical trial in which half of them had been randomly assigned to customized exercise programs over a period of six months, while the other half served as controls.

Researchers found that exercise also improved various risk factors for heart disease and stroke. However, higher exercise levels seemed to be less beneficial than less sitting time.

Researchers were unable to link the number of daily steps taken to telomere length. However, researchers were able to find a strong correlation between reduction in the amount of time spent sitting in the exercise programs and telomere length.

"In many countries formal exercise may be increasing, but at the same time people spend more time sitting," researchers wrote in the study. "There is growing concern that not only low physical activity...but probably also sitting and sedentary behavior is an important and new health hazard of our time."

"We hypothesizes that a reduction in sitting hours is of greater importance than an increase in exercise time for elderly risk individuals," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the BMJ-British Medical Journal.

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