Sitting too much makes your cells older than you are.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology  found that the body cells of sedentary women, those who weren’t physically active and sat more than 10 hours a day, were biologically eight years older than the women’s chronological age. But, the negative effect of sitting was not found in women who got at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if they sat as much.


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Get up and move - that’s the message from this latest research showing the negative biological effects of our sedentary lifestyles. But, being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or running a marathon. It means moving more, sitting less.

Regardless of our age, there are things we can do to put more physical activity in our daily routines.  The National Institutes of Health offers the following tips:

  • Around the House.
    • Stand up from a chair and sit down again without using your hands.
    • Rise up and down on your toes while standing and holding onto a stable chair or countertop.
    • Stretch and move around during commercial breaks when watching TV.
    • Walk around the house when you talk on the phone.
  • Around Town.
    • Join a local walking group. Always walk in safe places such as the mall, museum, or a community center.
  • While Running Errands.
    • If it is safe, park the car farther away from stores or restaurants.
    • If you take the bus or train – and the area is safe – get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Outside.
    • Take care of a garden or wash your car.
    • Enjoy a brisk walk with friends or family around the block, in a park, museum, or zoo.

Other suggestions:

If possible, spread errands throughout the week to increase the opportunities for activity, like walking from the car to a store, the library or the bank.

Don’t use the drive-in at the bank or pharmacy. Park the car and walk inside.

While food shopping, purposely walk up and down all of the aisles. Doing this in a moderate sized food store is about a mile of walking!

Bring your mail to the post office rather than leaving it in your mailbox for the delivery person.

If you have more than one bathroom in your home, use the one that is farthest from where you are.

If you have steps in your house, go up and down an extra time or two. This is one time when forgetting something downstairs is a good thing!

If you can incorporate both physical activity (anything that gets your body moving) and exercise (activities that are structured and repetitive like weight training, tai chi, spin or aerobics class, swimming) into your daily routine, that’s even better!

For more information:

National Institute on Aging
                Benefits of exercise

National Health Service (UK)
                Importance of exercise

USDHHS - Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
How to get older adults more physically active? Remove barriers

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES is the principal of Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC, in Sparta, a practice focused on improving health through education. Her office offers individual and group health education, and individual health behavior change guidance.  For more information please see  To contact Dr. Hayden, email her

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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