A new study reveals that exercising throughout adulthood has the potential to slow down aging, published in Aging Cell on March 8, 2018.
A team of researchers conducted a study that included 125 amateur cyclists between ages 55 and 79 years, from whom 84 were males and 41 were females. The men in the study were able to cycle 100 km within 6.5 hours, while the women could cycle 60 km within 5.5 hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were not considered in the study.
Each participant underwent a series of tests comparing them to a group of adults who are not regular physical activity participants. The group with no regular physical activity consisted of 75 healthy people aged 57 to 80 years and 55 healthy young adults aged 20 to 36 years.
The study revealed that those who exercised regularly did not suffer from loss of muscle mass and strength. It was found that body fat or cholesterol levels of cyclists did not increase with age, as well as the testosterone levels in male cyclists remained high. Results of the study also showed benefits of exercise did not seem to age the immune system either. By the age of 20 years, the thymus, which makes immune T cells, starts shrinking, reducing the count of the immune cells. However, as found in cyclists, the thymus made as many T cells as those in young people.
Professor Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said, “Hippocrates in 400 BC said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society. However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail. 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.”
The researchers still intend to carry on their study, and access these cyclists, to figure out whether or not they continue to cycle and stay young and healthy.