Every time you stand up or crouch down, your knees crack. You wake up in the morning with an aching back that never goes away. A sudden change in weather wreaks havoc on your bones, your head and your health. Little lines have begun forming at the corners of your eyes and mouth, and you are fairly certain that there are gray hairs currently overtaking your naturally brunette strands. You note all of this, joking that you are 35 going on 70. But what you don’t realize is that that statement may not be entirely wrong. You may very well be biologically older than your years.
A study of 2,401 twins found that those who were the most sedentary were biologically up to ten years older than their active peers of the same age. Researchers examined the participants’ level of physical activity as well as the length of their leukocyte telomeres, pieces of DNA that shorten with age making cells more susceptible to damage. Those who exercised the most (an average of 199 minutes a week) had leukocyte telomeres long enough to indicate a biological difference equivalent to a decade, which when considering the brevity of life, is a lot.
Your biological clock is already ticking. As you age, you will automatically be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental decline. There’s no need to rush that development. Allow your body to remain as young as it truly is: move. Spend your free time active, rather than sprawled before the television or peering into a computer screen. Go for a walk, play tennis or swim. You’ll slow down the aging process, and as an added bonus, once you do reach old age, your active body will be primed to fight those diseases that are lurking in the future.