A large genetic study confirms the link between brisk walking and delayed aging.
Research continues to show that a more active lifestyle can combat some of the effects of aging, such as heart damage, memory loss and cognitive decline.
To this knowledge is added a New study details relationship between walking pace and biological age.
Researchers from the University of Leicester have shown that just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day could increase a person’s life expectancy by up to three years. These scientists have now turned to genetic data to confirm what they claim is a causal relationship. And it is that walking has multiple benefits for our health.
Although we have already shown that the pace of walking is a very important factor in predicting health status, we were unable to confirm that walking at a brisk pace actually benefits health.
In this study, we use information from people’s genetic profiles to show that a faster walking pace is indeed likely to lead to a younger biological age, as measured by telomeres.
Tom Yates, lead author of the study.
Telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from damage and are therefore the focus of much research on the effects of aging. As our cells divide, the telomeres get shorter and eventually prevent the cell from dividing further, turning it into what is called a senescent cell. For this reason, telomere length is considered a useful marker for measuring biological age.
The new study analyzed genetic data from the UK Biobank on more than 400,000 middle-aged adults and compared it to walking speed information, both self-reported and obtained from the activity trackers they wore.
This is one of the first studies in which all these factors are analyzed at the same time, and in which a clear relationship between walking speed and younger biological age. The difference between fast walkers and slow walkers was 16 years, depending on telomere length, the scientists write in their research paper.
This suggests that measures such as usually slower walking speed are a simple way to identify people at increased risk for chronic disease or unhealthy aging, and that activity intensity may play an important role in optimization of interventions.
Dr Paddy Dempsey, lead author of the study.
More information: www.nature.com (English text).
Going through le.ac.uk