Health update: Study shows exercise has more influence on longevity than genes


A new study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity on August 24, 2022 suggests that exercise, and not genes may hold the key to longevity in humans.

Previous studies have demonstrated that a lower level of physical activity and more sitting time is linked to a higher risk of death. Does risk vary if a person has a genetic propensity for longevity? Researchers at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego, set out to provide an answer to that issue.

Higher levels of light exercise and moderate-to-vigorous exercise were linked to a lower chance of passing away, according to the prospective study. A higher risk of mortality was linked to longer inactive periods. Even among women with varying degrees of a propensity for long life, these correlations persisted.

According to lead author Alexander Posis, M.P.H., a fourth-year doctoral student at the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, “The goal of this research was to understand whether associations between physical activity and sedentary time with death varied based on different levels of the genetic predisposition for longevity.”

In order to estimate mortality, researchers started tracking the physical activity of 5,446 American women aged 63 and older in 2012 as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health project (OPACH). For up to seven days, participants wore a research-grade accelerometer to track their movement patterns, level of physical activity, and amount of inactive time.

According to senior author Aladdin H. Shadyab, PhD, assistant professor at the the institute, “Our study showed that, even if you aren’t likely to live longer based on your genes, you can still extend your lifespan by engaging in positive lifestyle behaviours like regular exercise and sitting less.”

Contrarily, being physically active is vital to gaining longevity even if your genes predispose you to it.
The study results confirm suggestions that older women should engage in physical exercise of any level to lessen the risk of disease and early death, stated the authors, given the ageing adult population in the United States and greater time spent doing lower-intensity activities.