- Health experts say staying active can contribute to healthy aging in older adults.
- California researchers have found that physical activity of any intensity can reduce the risk of death in women over 60.
- Their nationwide study also found more evidence that more sedentary behaviors carry a higher mortality risk, regardless of genetic propensity for longevity.
- The authors hope these findings will encourage older women to be active to reduce the risk of disease and premature death.
In the United States, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that the life expectancy of males and females is 74.5 years and 80.2 years, respectively. To age well, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physical activity is the key.
To find out if physical activity has a genetic advantage in promoting longevity, researchers from the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego and other institutions conducted a study national.
After analyzing health data from more than 5,000 older postmenopausal women, researchers found that higher levels of light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity were correlated with a lower risk of death from all causes. The findings expanded on previous studies that showed more sedentary time carries greater health risks.
These associations persisted across different levels of genetic potential for living longer.
“[The] results support the importance of higher physical activity (PA) and lower sedentary time (ST) in reducing mortality risk in older women, regardless of status [their] genetic predisposition to longevity,” the researchers wrote.
Their prospective study was recently published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.
From 2012 to 2020, researchers at UC San Diego analyzed physical activity data from more than 5,000 ambulatory women aged 63 and older.
Lead author Alexander Posis, MPH, a doctoral student in the joint doctoral program in public health at San Diego State University and UC San Diego, explained the importance of the OPACH study to Medical News Today:
“Our study used pre-existing data from the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health (OPACH) study, part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) which began in the early 1990s because women had not been included in many epidemiological and clinical studies. tests.”
– Alexander Posis, MPH, lead study author
The OPACH study focused on associations between physical activity, cardiovascular disease and injury risk. The data generated allowed researchers to examine physical activity and the risk of mortality, cancers, cognitive decline and physical disability.
Other research using the OPACH study found associations with physical activity (PA), sedentary time (ST), and mortality during an average follow-up of 3 years. However, no one had explored a possible genetic influence on these associations.
The UC San Diego study aimed to use a 6-year follow-up and adjust the results with a “weighted genetic risk score (GRS) for longevity.”
Activity, variants and covariates
OPACH participants wore an accelerometer 24 hours a day for 7 consecutive days.
The device measured the time the women spent moving or standing still and the intensity of any activity.
The researchers defined total PA “as movement resulting in the expenditure of energy”. They graded PA intensity and ST minutes using predetermined cutoff points applied to accelerometer counts.
Choosing Longevity Genes
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have linked several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or genetic variants, to longevity.
The UC San Diego cohort developed a weighted GRS based on three SNPs strongly associated with long life. This measure compared survival at age 90 versus death before age 90.
Covariates and comorbidities
Covariates, or characteristics among study participants, included age, education level, body mass index (BMI), self-reported health status and other details. Race of participants was also a factor, but was limited to white, black, and Hispanic ethnicities.
The study also analyzed chronic illnesses present before or after participation, including cancer, depression, frequent falls and cardiovascular disease.
Of the 5446 women in the present study sample, 1022 died during follow-up.
The authors determined that 36% of the total population had high GRS, 33.1% had medium GRS, and 30.9% had low GRS for longevity.
The researchers first found that physical activity, light or moderate to vigorous, was associated with a lower risk of death while higher ST was associated with a higher risk of death. Interestingly, these associations persisted regardless of genetic predisposition to longevity.
Interestingly, individuals with low GRS were younger, more active, and had higher physical functioning scores than other GRS groups. Those with low GRS were also “more likely to be black race/ethnicity than the medium and high GRS groups.”
“Our study showed that while you’re not likely to live long based on your genes, you can still extend your lifespan by adopting positive lifestyle behaviors such as regular exercise and less sitting. ,” Aladdin H. Shadyab, PhD, the study’s lead author and assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, said in a press release.
Historically, women have been significantly underrepresented in clinical trials. The use of data from the OPACH study was a step forward in inclusive research.
However, the resulting lack of male participation limited the results of the UC San Diego study.
“Based on our study design, we could not make any inferences about men. But we hope that future studies will examine these associations in study cohorts that include men as well as people in younger age groups,” Posis said. DTM.
Dr. Scott Kaiser, geriatrician and director of geriatric cognitive health at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said DTM the work is a “study well done [… with] lots of interesting data. However, he cautioned that the current study is an association study and is not designed to prove causation.
“I think this just supports a growing amount of evidence that our genes are not our destiny. […] It shows that there is a stronger association between longevity and physical activity than [with] genetics,” Dr. Kaiser said.
Noting that the current study focused only on certain markers of longevity, Dr. Kaiser added that researchers need to determine other such factors. For example, he said the SNPs used to calculate GRS were more common among people of European ancestry.
Is ‘sedentary‘ a misnomer?
Dr. Kaiser said the term “sedentary time” may not be appropriate. It does not include people who are unable to walk but can still participate in other physical activities such as chair exercises.
“It’s about whether you’re just having constant physical activity versus someone who’s overall physically inactive,” he said.
Dr. Kaiser hopes the public will understand that genetics does not trump a healthy lifestyle in reducing the risk of disease and death.
“When it comes to healthy aging, exercise is about the closest thing we have to a miracle drug,” he said.
“All the taking of this [study] is that even if you could go to your doctor and have a fancy genetic test to see whether or not you have longevity markers, it doesn’t matter as much as getting off the couch and exercising regularly.
– Dr. Scott Kaiser, geriatrician and director of geriatric cognitive health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, California
. Regular exercise can help women live long whatever are their genes