Getting up off your ass, is a common call to action. Now the phrase can be used to help motivate people to stand up and stay young.
Scientists are finding out that spending less time on the sofa lengthens ‘telomeres’ – the caps on chromosomes which protect the genetic code inside.
In layman’s terms this means that the best anti-ageing technique around is to simply stand up. Scientists also note that the reverse also holds true being, too much sitting down shortens telomeres.
The Telegraph UK reports:
Short telomeres have been linked to premature ageing, disease and early death. So spending less time on the sofa could help people live longer by preventing their DNA from ageing.
The research found that people who were frequently on their feet had longer telomeres, which were keeping the genetic code safe from wear and tear.
Intriguingly taking part in more exercise did not seem to have an impact on telomere length.
Prof Mai-Lis Hellenius, from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, said about the research findings:
“In many countries formal exercise may be increasing, but at the same time people spend more time sitting. There is growing concern that not only low physical activity but probably also sitting and sedentary behaviour is an important and new health hazard of our time. We hypothesise that a reduction in sitting hours is of greater importance than an increase in exercise time for elderly risk individuals.”
And a little more about these DNA protecting telomeres…
Telomeres stop chromosomes from fraying, clumping together and “scrambling” genetic code. Scientists liken their function to those little plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces, concluding that lifespan is linked to their length.
The study involved researcher looking at 49 overweight, sedentary adults in their late sixties. Scientists measured the length of the telomeres in their blood cells. Half of adults took part in an exercise programme that lasted six months, while the other half literally sat on their asses.
Physical activity levels were assessed using a diary and pedometer to measure the amount of footsteps taken each day.
The amount of time spent sitting down was worked out through a questionnaire.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed that although people who did more exercise tended to be healthier, the most important factor was how much time they spent sitting down.
Scientists found that the less time a person spent sitting, the longer their telomeres, and the greater their chance of living longer.