We get a lot of questions at our walk in clinic Lynnwood WA offices about whether a patient is "too old" to exercise. But new research suggests that exercise might help prevent the effects of aging in the first place.
A new study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that older women who engage in more exercise and less sitting throughout the day were, biologically speaking, up to eight years "younger" than other women of the same age.
How could that be? Using a sample of nearly 1,500 women ages 64 to 95, the researchers looked specifically at women's physical activity levels, as well as the length of their telomeres. Telomeres are small caps on the end of our chromosomal DNA, which naturally deteriorate and shorten with age.
Shortened telomeres are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer; previous research has found that lifestyle habits such as smoking and obesity can shorten telomeres at faster rates.
This new research suggests that exercise may be another important factor in preserving telomeres. Women who engaged in at least 30 minutes of walking or other physical activity per day had longer telomeres than women of the same chronological age who sat for 10 or more hours of the day.
While the study clearly demonstrates the benefits of exercise at any age, one out of every 10 Baby Boomers today report that they only engage in physical activity a few times per month. But starting -- and sticking to -- an exercise regimen early on in life can help produce life-saving effects.
"Discussions about the benefits of exercise should start when we are young, and physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old," said the study's lead author, Aladdin Shadyab.
However, it's important to make sure that you're healthy enough to handle exercise before you begin to prevent injury. Visit our walk in clinic Lynnwood WA location to speak with one of our doctors about how you can start incorporating more physical activity into your life, one step at a time.