Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. I have always considered that to mean you should exercise daily. But, an article in Wednesday’s New York Times has a fascinating clarification of those words.
It turns out that moving more, means not only exercising daily, but also being less sedentary when we are back home or even at the office. Don’t sit so much.
Gretchen Reynolds writes that it all has to do with the length of our telomeres. “If you are unfamiliar with the componentry of your genes, telomeres are the tiny caps on the ends of DNA strands. They shorten and fray as a cell ages, although the process is not strictly chronological. Obesity, illness and other conditions can accelerate the shortening, causing cells to age prematurely, while some evidence suggests that healthy lifestyles may preserve telomere length, delaying cell aging.”
A Swedish study split sedentary seniors into two groups, one began an individualized exercise program and also advised to sit less. The second simply were to continue their lives, but try to lose weight and be healthy with no specific recommendations.
Six months later the groups were brought back and their blood was drawn again to check their telomeres. The exercise group who sat less had telomeres that actually lengthened. “Their cells seemed to be growing physiologically younger. But perhaps most interesting, there was little correlation between exercise and telomere length. In fact, the volunteers in the exercise group who had worked out the most during the past six months tended now to have slightly less lengthening and even some shortening, compared to those who had exercised less but stood up more.”
It was the reduction in the sedentary time that had lengthened the telomeres, not the exercising, the scientists concluded.
So, in the future, make an effort to stand up and get away from your desk at work, or your couch at home in the evening and move a little. You may live longer as a result.
This reminded me of one of the features on the new Watch from Apple. The Activity App on the new watch has a display that measures how much you stand in a day. “Apple Watch senses when you stand up and gives you credit when you do. So you can minimize your sedentary time throughout the day. If you’ve been sitting too long, it reminds you to get up. You close the Stand ring when you’ve stood for at least one minute in 12 different hours during the day. “
So, if you have been looking for an excuse to pay $350 for the new Watch when it comes out next year, you have it. The Watch can help you to live longer.
If you don’t care to go all high tech in your efforts to live longer, remember to stand up more often. The results will be the same. Eat less; move more.