What telomeres say about activity and health: A rapid review

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Abstract

Background.

Empirical studies on occupation as a determinant of health could be advanced with research incorporating biological measures of health. Telomere length and telomerase function are promising biomarkers of the interaction of genetics, lifestyle, and behaviour; however, they have not been used in occupational therapy research.

Purpose.

This paper reviews current evidence on the role of physical and mindfulness activities in sustaining telomeres. The findings are applied to the study of occupation, health, and aging.

Method.

A rapid review was conducted with an evidence synthesis of 23 studies published from 2008 to 2014.

Findings.

Mindfulness activities may preserve telomeres, slow cell senescence and death, and sustain health through mediating life stressors. Inconsistencies exist for the effect of physical activities on telomeres.

Implications.

Similar research examining a range of occupations may help to identify the health-promoting benefits of occupation and inform lifestyle interventions.

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