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Is Sitting Making You Older?

Sarah Jenkins

Is Sitting Making You Older?

We’re sure you’ve all heard the dangers of sitting too much. Being too sedentary can cause all sorts of issues, including organ damage, muscle degeneration, leg disorders, back pain, and even a greater risk of mortality.  But did you know that sitting for too long actually ages you too?

A recent study looked at just how much sitting can affect your “age”. The study, performed by Aladdin Shadyab from the University of California San Diego, took blood samples from 1500 women, and measured their daily activity levels using accelerometers. The researcher then looked at the impact sitting had on the women’s chromosomes. The study found that women who did not meet the recommended 30 minutes of physical daily activity, and spent more time sedentary (roughly 10 hours) were about 8 years older than those who were also inactive but not quite as sedentary. However, women who met the recommended daily activity level seemed to show no association between their chromosome age and how much they sat. This seems to suggest that exercise may counteract the aging process.  (Read more about the study here from Time.)

While the research is still out on exactly how much exercise you need to do daily to negate the aging effects, getting in the daily-recommended 30 minutes is a good place to start.  Wondering how to fit in 30 minutes a day? Here are a few ideas

  • Brisk Walking
  • Biking
  • Dancing
  • Resistance training (be sure to hit all the major muscle groups, including lower and upper body)
  • Running
  • Bodyweight cardio, like jumping jacks

Beyond that, try to avoid sitting for too long. Working at a desk job can make this challenging, but there are things you can do there too that can keep you from being too sedentary. Many work places have instituted standing work stations to combat the negative effects of aging. You may also try sitting on a balance ball, which helps to activate your muscles more than sitting in a normal chair. If these are not options for you (or even if they are), even just setting an alarm every hour to remind yourself to stand up and walk around a bit can help.  (Read this article for some more ideas to combat sitting during the workday.)

If you’re home all day, don’t get caught in the sitting trap. Take up a new hobby, such as gardening, or golf. Move around the house regularly. Find a friend to take a walk with. Clean the house. Anything you can do to stay active will help you in the long run.