Physical Activity And Sedentary Lifestyle Have More Impact On Lifespan Than Genes, Study Finds


A recent paper published in the journal Human Kinetics supports the idea that the ratio between physical activity and sedentary behavior has a more significant impact on lifespan and health span than our genetic makeup.

The study focused on a group of 5,446 older women who were categorized into three groups based on their genetic risk factor, or GRS, which was determined by analyzing specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms known to influence longevity.

The authors of the study argue that a simplistic understanding of genetics and its role in human health is inadequate and often misleading. They cite studies that demonstrate how genes associated with physical fitness do not affect the relationship between physical activity and conditions like coronary artery disease.

Similarly, they found that the connection between physical activity and cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease was not influenced by the presence of the APOE-4 genetic mutation, which is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s patients.

With the emergence of gene-modification technologies like CRISPR and the increasing accessibility of genetic analysis through platforms like 23andMe or Promethease, there has been a growing tendency for people to attribute their health issues to their genes.

However, emerging evidence suggests that our actions and lifestyle choices play a more significant role in our health outcomes than our genetic predispositions. In the words of Shakespeare, it appears that the fault lies not in our stores, but in ourselves.

The study on older women presented a robust dataset, with the authors boasting of “a large, diverse, and well-characterized cohort of older women across the United States with long-term follow-up.”

The researchers conclusively found that “among older women, higher accelerometer-measured light [physical activity] was associated with lower risk of mortality, and higher accelerometer-measured [sedentary behavior] was associated with a higher risk of mortality during an average follow-up of 6.1 years,” and that “findings were consistent across categories of a GRS for longevity.”

Conversely, higher levels of sedentary behavior were linked to a higher risk of mortality during an average follow-up period of 6.1 years. Importantly, these findings held true across different categories of the GRS for longevity.

Based on these findings, the authors emphasize the importance of promoting the significance of physical activity among older women. Encouraging regular exercise and reducing sedentary behavior can have a positive impact on their health and overall lifespan. These results highlight the need for effective communication and education regarding the role of physical activity in promoting well-being and longevity in this specific demographic.

In conclusion, this study reinforces the notion that the balance between physical activity and sedentary behavior plays a critical role in determining lifespan and health span, surpassing the influence of our genetic makeup. It urges individuals to prioritize an active lifestyle and underscores the significance of public health initiatives aimed at promoting physical activity, particularly among older women. While our genetic factors certainly play a role in our health, it is within our power to shape our well-being through lifestyle choices and behaviors.