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Acceleration Of Biological Aging Linked To Older Women Leading Sedentary Lifestyle

Update Date: Jan 19, 2017 06:21 PM EST

Researchers have observed that it has become the norm for older people to be less physically active and spend a great time sedentary. These behaviors from older people are concerning researchers and healthcare professionals as it is known that a less active lifestyle is linked to high risks of various diseases and ailment.

A recent study conducted found that acceleration of biological aging is linked to older women leading a sedentary lifestyle.

According to a study, conducted by the researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, sedentary time is associated with leukocyte telomere length (LTL). In addition, telomere length is also affected by the duration of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.

Leukocyte telomere length is said to be a biomarker of cellular aging. Telomeres, which are repetitive DNA-protein structures found at the end of chromosomes, progressively shorten with age. Health and lifestyle factors like obesity and smoking contribute to the acceleration of the shortening of telomeres. A shortened telomere is linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and major cancers.

Understanding the relationship of sedentary time with leukocyte telomere length is important especially among older adults. Older adults are more vulnerable to health consequences due to their sedentary lifestyle, older adults spend 8.5 to 10.7 hours sitting, and in turn affects their biological ages.

A cross-sectional study was conducted with women participants from the Women's Health Initiative. The Women's Health Initiative is a large U.S prospective study that investigates chronic diseases in postmenopausal women.

A total of 1,481 older women, both white and African-American, with ages ranging from 64 years of age to 95 years of age participated in the study. The participants were asked to complete questionnaires and wore an accelerometer on their right hip for seven days to track their movements

The researchers found that women who lead a sedentary lifestyle or those who spend greater time sitting and are less physical active have shorter telomeres. On the other hand, older women who still lead a sedentary lifestyle but exercise for at least 30 minutes a day as recommended did not have shorter telomere length.

On average, leukocyte telomere length in the most sedentary women is 170 base pairs shorter and women lose 21 base pairs of telomeres per year. In other words, the sedentary women were biologically older by eight years.

"Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle. Chronological age doesn't always match biological age", says Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, author of the study. In addition, the researchers stress the importance of physical activity even when people are older. The researchers are looking into expanding their study of the relationship of telomere length with physical activity in the younger population and in men. The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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