Everyone knows that exercise is crucial to a healthy life. One thing that you may not realize, however, is that a lifetime of regular physical activity could put the breaks on the body’s aging process.
Round and Round
This notion comes from a recent study published in the journal Aging Cell. A collaborative effort between University of Birmingham and King’s College London, this report compared the overall health of active adults against those who completely shunned exercise. For the former group, the authors enlisted 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79.
In terms of gender, about two thirds of the active group were male. To qualify for this group, men had to demonstrate an ability to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours. For women, the standard was 60 km in 5.5 hours.
When the health of these two sets of subjects was analyzed, the cyclists consistently came out on top. For one thing, the cycling group did not experience the decline in muscle mass and strength found in their sedentary counterparts. Likewise, these older adults also enjoyed lower cholesterol levels and less body fat. Male cyclists were also observed to have higher testosterone readings.
A Stronger Defense
As if those benefits weren’t impressive enough, the immune systems of the physically active group also appeared to have held up remarkably well over the years. Specifically, the authors noted that the T cell counts of the cyclists were comparable to those found in young adults. T cells are a key component of the body’s immune system, as they are tasked with hunting down and destroying harmful invaders.
Janet Lord, a study author and the Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, noted that “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.”