Reap the rewards of regular physical activity in later life


"It really tells us that staying physically active all of your adult life can prevent much of what we think of as aging, including immune aging", said Janet Lord, who directs the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

The researchers recruited 125 male and female healthy amateur cyclists, who were aged 55 to 79 and had been cycling for almost all of their adult lives.

"Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier".

Study co-author Stephen Harridge, an expert in human physiology at King's College London, believes that the same group of participants would not enjoy the same health benefits without exercise.

The key to the fountain of youth is exercise, scientists concluded, in a study that found amateur cyclists over the age of 55 had biological markers similar to those of young and healthy individuals.

Male cyclists participating in the study must have the capacity to cycle 100km in less than 6.5 hours, while women needed to cover 60km out of 5.5 hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded from the study.

They gave test subjects a significant physical exercise and then ran a series of lab tests.

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They compared them to 75 people their own age who did not exercise and also to 55 young adults aged 20 to 36 who didn't exercise. After comparing the results with the results of those who were not actively engaged in sport, it turned out that those who cycled actively didn't lose any muscle mass or strength.

The cyclists were also shown to have lower body fat and lower cholesterol, and the men had higher levels of testosterone than is typical at a certain age.

A recent study has found out that cycling helps slow down ageing by boosting the immune system and muscles. An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells generally shrink from the age of 20. In this study, however, the cyclists' thymuses were making as many T cells as those of a young person.

"In any case, essentially, our discoveries expose the presumption that aging consequently makes us more delicate".

The researchers hope to continue to assess the cyclists to see if they continue to cycle and stay young.

"Find an exercise that you enjoy in whatever environment that suits you and make a habit of physical activity".

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