This Is How Sitting Too Much Can Actually Age You

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Come on ladies, let's get in formation — because if you don't get out of that chair of yours, you may be aging yourself. A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology might just be the motivation you need to sign up for that Beyoncé dance class.

Aladdin Shadyab and a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego looked at the consequences of sitting by examining chromosomes in a group of 1,500 women. Past studies looked at self-reported levels of exercise and activity, which is often inaccurate. Instead, Shadyab looked at blood samples and the DNA telomere sequences within each cell. According to Time, "as cells divide and age, they lose bits of the telomeres, so the length of this region can be a marker for how old a cell (and indirectly the person the cells belong to) is." Using that information, researchers looked at telomere length and compared it to how often each woman exercised.

During the study, Shadyab had a group of women wear accelerometers for one week to get an objective measure of physical activity. When he compared the women who were sedentary for 10 hours or more a day to women who met the daily recommended requirement of "30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily," he began to see some patterns.

The DNA telomeres in the inactive women were shorter than those of the active ones. Research found that the cells were approximately eight years older. Those who had a moderate amount of exercise had cells that were just a few years older than the women who got 30 minutes a day. While the study couldn't find an exact amount of physical activity needed to slow telomoere shortening, Shadyab concluded that "women who did not meet the physical activity guideline and were sedentary for at least 10 hours a day were biologically older; their cells are aging faster than those of women who were less sedentary."

The new study supports past findings, which saw "heart attack, stroke, hypertension and unhealthy blood sugar levels," associated with a more sedentary lifestyle. Stuck at a desk all day? You can get in some activity with these easy-to-learn yoga moves, but make sure you're getting up every few hours to stretch and maybe take a walk around the block — and maybe work up to that full-on "Formation" class. Your DNA will thank you.
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