Physical Activity May Have a Stronger Role Than Genes in Longevity

Summary: Higher rates of light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous exercise were associated with a lower risk of death. Sedentary lifestyles were associated with a higher risk of death. The findings were consistent among women with different levels of genetic predispositions to longevity.

Source: UCSD

Previous research has shown that low physical activity and greater time spent sitting are associated with a higher risk of death. Does risk change if a person is genetically predisposed to live a long life?

That is the question researchers at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego set out to answer in a study published in the August 24, 2022 online edition of the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.

“The goal of this research was to understand whether associations between physical activity and sedentary time with death varied based on different levels of genetic predisposition for longevity,” said lead author Alexander Posis, MPH, a fourth-year doctoral student in the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health.

In 2012, as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health study (OPACH), researchers began measuring the physical activity of 5,446 women in the United States who were 63 and older, following them through 2020 to determine mortality. Participants wore a research-grade accelerometer for up to seven days to measure how much time they spent moving, the intensity of physical activity, and sedentary time.

Participants wore a research-grade accelerometer for up to seven days to measure how much time they spent moving, the intensity of physical activity, and sedentary time. Image is in the public domain

The prospective study found that higher levels of light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were associated with lower risk of death. Higher sedentary time was associated with higher risk of mortality. These associations were consistent among women who had different levels of genetic predisposition for longevity.

“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,” said 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 a long life, remaining physically active is still important to achieve longevity.”

Given the aging adult population in the United States, and longer time spent engaging in lower intensity activities, the study findings support recommendations that older women should participate in physical activity of any intensity to reduce the risk of disease and premature death, wrote the authors.

The OPACH Study is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (RO1 HL105065). Funding also came from the National Institute on Aging (P01 AG052352) and a T32 Predoctoral Training Fellowship (T32 AG058529). The Women’s Health Initiative was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (75N92021-D00001, 75N92021D00002, 75N92021D00003, 75N92021D00004, 75N92021D00005).

Co-authors include: John Bellettiere, Rany M. Salem and Andrea Z. LaCroix, all of UC San Diego; Michael J. LaMonte, State University of New York at Buffalo; JoAnn E. Manson, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School; and Ramon Casanova, Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Disclosures: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

About this genetics and longevity research news

Author: Yadira Galindo
Source: UCSD
Contact: Yadira Galindo – UCSD
Image: The image is in the public domain

OriginalResearch: Closed access.
“Associations of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time With All-Cause Mortality by Genetic Predisposition for Longevity” by Alexander Posis et al. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Abstract

Associations of Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time With All-Cause Mortality by Genetic Predisposition for Longevity

The goal of this study was to examine associations between accelerometer-measured physical activity (PA) and sedentary time (ST) with mortality by a genetic risk score (GRS) for longevity. Among 5,446 women, (mean [SD]: age, 78.2 [6.6] years), 1,022 deaths were observed during 33,350 person-years of follow-up.

Using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models, higher light PA and moderate to vigorous PA were associated with lower mortality across all GRS for longevity categories (low/medium/high; all ptrends < .001).

Higher ST was associated with higher mortality (ptrendsacross all GRS categories < .001). Interaction tests for PA and ST with the GRS were not statistically significant.

Findings support the importance of higher PA and lower ST for reducing mortality risk in older women, regardless of genetic predisposition for longevity.

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