A decade-long study has found that even people with a genetic predisposition to longevity must engage in regular exercise to maximize their lifespan.
A team of researchers found that regardless of your genes, exercise is essential to avoid untimely death.
We'll have a look at the study's methodology and results, then you'll learn how to apply its findings to your own pursuit of a long and healthy life.
Researchers Compare Genetics And Exercise Levels For Longevity
A new study published in the Journal of Aging And Physical Activity has found that physical activity levels are more important than genes for living as long as possible.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers tracked the physical activity of 5,446 women aged 63 and older. The participants wore an accelerometer for seven consecutive days, which monitored their steps and other physical movements.1
The researchers gathered genotype data from the participants to determine their genetic predisposition to longevity and followed up with them through February 2020 to track deaths by any cause.
The scientists then compared the participants' time spent active or sedentary to how long they lived and analyzed the relationship between that data and each participant's genetic profile. This allowed them to assess whether genetic predisposition was able to outweigh activity levels to influence longevity.
Researchers tracked a week's worth of physical activity among 5,446 women aged 63 and older. They compared that data to the participants' predisposition to longevity and the actual occurrence of mortality by any cause. This allowed them to assess whether exercise or genetics was playing an overriding role in longevity.
Exercise Trumps Genes For Extending Life
We already knew that physically active people tend to live longer than people who lead a sedentary life. However, this study's findings emphasize the fact that our genes are merely a possibility. In the case of this study, it was the participants' actions that determined their health outcomes.1
The study's authors elaborated on this point in a press release:
“Our study showed that, even if you aren’t likely to live long based on your genes, you can still extend your lifespan by engaging in positive lifestyle behaviors such as regular exercise and sitting less,” explains senior study author Aladdin H. Shadyab, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego. “Conversely, even if your genes predispose you to a long life, remaining physically active is still important to achieve longevity.”2
For Savers, this is excellent news. The regular physical exercise that is a core component of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program plays the additional role of extending life. And even better, that's true regardless of your genetic predisposition.
Our genes may predispose us to a longer or shorter life, but whether that potential comes to pass depends upon our actions. In this study, regular exercise led to a longer life, regardless of genetic predisposition.
Physical Activity, Longevity, And Bone Health
This research didn't specifically look at bone health or the role of fracture in longevity. However, we know two important things about how those factors interrelate.
- People with higher levels of physical activity have healthier bones and are less likely to experience falls and features.
- Fractures, especially among older adults, can increase the risk of death.
A study published just last year found that a fragility fracture occurring at any site was associated with a reduced chance of survival for up to six years afterward. In the first year after the fracture, mortality risk more than doubled.3
Fortunately, you can reduce your fracture risk, improve your bone health, and– as today's study showed– decrease your odds of untimely death by increasing your physical activity levels.
The same physical activity that extends life improves bone health. This relationship is also true in reverse since fractures increase the risk of early death.
What This Means To You
Almost everyone can increase their physical activity levels. As you do, you'll put yourself more firmly in the category of low mortality risk. At the same time, you'll strengthen your body and your bones– reducing the chance of falls and fractures.
This element of your health is so important that the Save Institute started an online platform called SaveTrainer that offers on-demand guided physical activity online videos. They span a wide variety of workouts led by professional trainers and are customizable to your ability level.
Whether you'd like to try yoga or are an experienced practitioner– SaveTrainer has workout classes for you. If you'd like to do aerobics, work on your flexibility, or increase your balance and core strength, SaveTrainer has professional trainers ready to guide you. Best of all, you can use this resource anywhere and anytime using your laptop or even your phone.
Infuse your daily life with physical activities that bring you energy and enjoyment. It might take some searching, but once you find a routine that you like, the positive results will be unstoppable.