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Sitting less can increase your lifespan!

December 16th, 2014
Sitting and Lifespan

As a society, we tend to live very sedentary lifestyles, sitting at our office desk all day and on our couch all night.  Sure we may workout at the gym, do yoga or go for a run daily – but we spend the rest of our time on our butts. Unfortunately, various studies have shown that this sedentary way of life is correlated to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, even if you exercise regularly!

Recently, a research study done by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden demonstrated that sitting less can actually slow the aging process in your cells and ultimately increase your lifespan! The research team’s goal was to alter the amount of time people spent sitting and exercising, and monitor various biological activities.  The variable of most interest in this study was telomere length.

Telomeres are basically tiny caps on the end of DNA strands in every cell. As our cells divide and age, these telomeres shorten.  At a certain point, the telomeres in a cell reach a point where can’t shorten any more; this means that the cell can no longer divide.  Cells with telomeres that reach this critical length go into an inactive period called senescence or self destruct in a process called apoptosis.  The slower these telomeres shorten, the longer your body’s cells (and essentially you) can stay alive.  It turns out that a healthy, physically active lifestyle is associated with longer telomeres, meaning that your lifestyle choices can actually influence how quickly you age!  Therefore, Swedish scientists wanted to see if changing the time spent sitting and exercising could influence telomere length and ultimately the aging process.

The group analyzed 49 sedentary, overweight individuals that were all 68 years old.  The experimental group was subjected to a physical activity regimen for 6 months, while the rest of the volunteers were allowed to maintain their sedentary lifestyle as the control group.  Before and after the 6-month period, all subjects were given a survey rating their physical activity and blood samples were taken to analyze the telomere length in their white blood cells.

After 6 months, there was a significant increase in the time spent exercising and a reduction in the time spent sitting in the experimental group; an expected result. The research scientists then analyzed the relationship between telomere length and these changes in physical activity. There was no relationship seen between exercise and telomere length. However, there was a significant negative correlation between sitting time and telomere length.  Basically, the length of telomeres was longer in subjects that spent less time sitting and this relationship had very little to do with the amount of exercise done.

This is a very important distinction to clarify; it’s not how much exercise you do that seems to be playing a roll in your longevity or lifespan, but how much time you spend sitting!  Other studies have shown similar trends in how sitting is correlated to various chronic diseases and this relationship is independent of the amount or intensity level of any exercise done.  This means that sitting all day and working out at a very high intensity level for an hour isn’t a long-term solution to your health and wellness.  It’s important to reduce the overall time you spend sitting and incorporate more frequent, low-intensity level activity into your daily routine.

We know sitting can be very difficult to avoid at home, at work and especially while traveling. Fortunately, there are some quick and easy exercise routines you can do in all of these environments that can effectively reduce time spent sitting and even reverse the harmful impacts of sitting .  Our very own Chad and Brenda Walding have created the Sitting Solution, a complete training guide with an exhaustive list of low-intensity exercises specifically designed for your home or office. This guide is specifically geared towards improving your mobility, your posture and breaking up those extended sitting periods we are all so used to .

Many studies are beginning to uncover how influential lifestyle choices are in dictating our well-being and longevity.  We need to realize that we can actually control how well our bodies function.  Awareness is the first step, but in order to see results you have to take action – so start taking action and GET UP!

Written by Michelle S. Gupta, PhD Candidate

PS – Learn more about the Sitting Solution and get your very own copy of the guide today!  It contains incredible background information on the problems associated with sitting, detailed exercise routines and instructional videos. Click here for the Sitting Solution!

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Sitting less can increase your lifespan!
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Sitting less can increase your lifespan!
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Recently, a research study done by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden demonstrated that sitting less can actually slow the aging process in your cells and ultimately increase your lifespan!
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2 Responses

  1. Marvin Dittfurth says:

    So, agree. I find it troubling that we have come up with all kinds of devices to keep us off our feet. Out here in the country people have four-wheelers to go to the mailbox that is only a hundred yards away. They buy wood splitters to split firewood. And, not many have a garden and if they did, you can bet they would have a riding tiller to cultivate it with. In the city, they buy riding lawnmowers to mow 60 X 120 foot lots. They drive to the store only a block away. And we worry about going green? How about all the emissions from these labor saving, health wrecking devices? For me the energy problem and the health care crisis are related. We would use less fossil fuel energy, have less emissions and lessen the need for health care by simply getting off our butts.

    • Sayla says:

      I totally agree. I live in the country and I love to walk down the driveway to my mailbox…. and I do it several times a day just to get out and walk. I love working in my garden, without machinery. I like the peace and quiet. People should take their ear buds out of their ears and quit staring at their phones and play with nature! It’s good for you!!!

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