It turns out you can outrun your bad genes.
Exercise can overcome genetics, even if you’re not prone to longevity, and wear out the age-old excuse that bad genes are responsible for shorter lifespans, new research from the University of California at San Diego suggests.
While certain individuals are genetically predisposed to live longer than others, the UCSD research team has examined whether these people can live more stagnant lifestyles and still live longer than others. They published their findings this month in the “Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.”
“The aim of this study was to understand whether associations between physical activity and sedentary time with death varied based on different levels of genetic predisposition to longevity,” Alexander Posis, lead study author at San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, said in a press release.
Researchers began the study in 2012 and tracked the physical activity and lifestyle habits of 5,446 women ages 63 or older through 2020. Each wore a device to measure how often they moved, how intense the physical activity was and how much time they spent sitting.
They found that higher levels of light to moderate and vigorous exercise were associated with lowering the risk of death during the monitored period. In addition, they found that those who spent more time in a sedentary state had a higher risk of death.
The most significant finding was that the link between exercise and living longer was clear, even in women with different levels of genetic predisposition to longevity.
“Even if you probably won’t live long based on your genes, you can still extend your lifespan by adopting positive lifestyle behaviors, such as regular exercise and sitting less,” says senior 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 longevity, staying physically active is still important to achieving longevity.”
The authors suggested in the study that older women should participate in physical activity “of any intensity to reduce the risk of disease and premature death.”