It’s common knowledge that physical inactivity is bad for your health. As a child, your body needs physical activity to ensure proper growth and development. As an adult, your body needs regular physical activity to maintain good health and prevent degenerative diseases. Physical inactivity leads to health problems such as poor cardiovascular health, poor respiratory health, diabetes, muscle and bone loss, and obesity, just to name a few. A recent study found that physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle may affect the aging of cells.
Sedentary lifestyle could age cells
A study from the University of California San Diego found that women who sat for 10 hours a day and got less than 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity had shorter telomeres than women who are more physically active.
Telomeres are compound structures at the end of chromosomes. These structures protect the ends of the chromosome from deterioration. Telomeres shorten naturally as people age, but certain factors – such as obesity and smoking – increase the speed at which the process occurs. The UCSD study found that physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle also cause cells to age more rapidly.
The study included 1,500 women between the ages of 64 to 95. These women completed questionnaires and wore a device that measured their physical activity over the course of a week. Researchers found a correlation between physical inactivity and shorter telomeres. Women who were sedentary had cells that were eight biological years older than their chronological age.
The importance of physical activity and exercise
The findings from this study provide further evidence of the importance of physical activity and exercise. Physical activity helps ensure good health and improves your overall quality of life. Staying active is important for both men and women throughout all stages of life. While it’s easier to stay active if you start at an early age, it’s never too late to start moving and exercising. In fact, studies have seen improvement in the physical and mental health of people who begin exercising in their 90s.
Choosing the right kind of physical exercise is important. Broadly speaking, you’ll get the best results from the kind of exercise that you enjoy enough to do regularly. If you’re sedentary now and want to start exercising without worrying about overdoing it or getting hurt, consider gentle exercise like walking, swimming, or yoga. If you’re more excited about Zumba, hiking, or spin class, go ahead and do what sounds like fun. Just ease your way into it. Consider taking a class so you can work on proper form and avoid injuries.
Your primary care physician can help you figure out the types of exercise that are right for you. Know this, though: there is some kind of exercise for everyone!