When it comes to longevity, lifestyle matters more than genes! This good news, which shows that a long and healthy life is within everyone's reach regardless of our genetic makeup, was published a few weeks ago in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity thanks to a collaboration between scholars from the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego (Posis et al, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 2022).
Longevity, is it all just a matter of genes?
The observation that, in different parts of the world, there are particularly long-lived groups of people has always raised the question of whether a long and healthy life is all about genes or lifestyle. Several studies have already been able to indicate that a healthy and balanced diet is certainly a valuable ally. The study we are talking about today seems to bring further confirmation that, when it comes to longevity, lifestyle counts more than our genetic heritage. And this is really a very important piece of information, because if we can do nothing to change our genes, we can instead act a lot on how we conduct our lives. But let's understand better.
Moderate physical activity is associated with increased longevity, the study
Scientists drew on the health and lifestyle data of 5,446 women, all aged 63 and over. The volunteers had taken part in a larger project, called OPACH, or the Women's Health Initiative Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health study, which started in 2012 and continued until 2020. Within this project, women were asked to wear an instrument. capable of measuring daily physical activity, time spent moving and intensity of movement. The women were followed up until 2020 to assess their level of longevity and health. Well, what emerged was that, in general, all women who practiced daily physical activity, from light to moderate, had a lower risk of death from disease than those who instead led a more sedentary life. And more importantly, these results were observed regardless of the longevity predicted by the genes.
As indicated by the same authors of the study, even if a person has a lower probability of living for a long time based on the genes, practicing a moderate physical activity he/she is able to extend the duration of his/her life. Similarly, even if the person's genes can predict a long life, it is important to fight laziness and the sedentary path in order not to lose the advantages offered by mother nature. Therefore, it is essential to move and practice moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, a light run or a swim, at all ages. These results are in line with another, very recent research presented at the ESC Congress 2022, the meeting of the European Society of Cardiology (Presented at the ESC Congress 2022 meeting, 28 August, Barcelona). According to this study, at least ten minutes of walking a day, about an hour a week, extend the life of octogenarians, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and death from disease by 40%. In short, at our disposal we have a powerful tool to guarantee longevity, more powerful even than our genes, why not exploit it?