If you want to live longer try standing up. One way to measure how fast you are aging (dying) is to measure telomere length. We’ve written several articles on telomeres. Here’s one called, Telomeres: A Key to Longevity. Quickly, telomeres are little caps of at the end of the chromosomes that house our genetic codes. As we age telomeres become shorter, and once they reach a critically short length cells begin to die. A recent study from Sweden found that standing up more frequently is associated with longer telomeres – thus longevity. So if you want to slow the aging process STAND UP, which is a nice way of saying do not sit too much.
Half the study participants were placed on a 6 month exercise program (intervention group) and the other half were told not to engage in physical activity. Telomeres were measured at the beginning of the study and at end of the study in both groups. The amount of time sitting and number of steps taken was tract in both groups as well time engaged in physical activity in the intervention group.
Not Sitting, Exercise, and Telomere Length
In Ask Your Doctor if Getting Off Your Bottom is Right For You we discussed that one cannot out exercise the harm that comes from sitting more than 4 hours a day. Now we have a possible explanation – shortening of telomeres related to sitting too much.
The Swedish study showed something rather interesting between exercise, sitting, and telomere length. It was the amount of time not sitting that was associated with longer telomere length – not the time spent exercising. So perhaps when it comes to general health recommendations the focus should be re-directed from encouraging exercising to simply encouraging an avoidance being sedentary – at least when it comes to those patient who do not exercise and do not want to exercise.
Avoid Sitting and Stand Up
Based on this study it is the avoidance of sitting that is a potential way to slow the aging process. So STAND UP and be proud! Say your name out loud. We are the…… (fill in you school’s mascot). The mighty mighty……! Does anyone remember that cheer?