Staying Active Slows Down Aging, Study Finds

Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 22:01

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and King's College London have found that a lifetime of regular exercise could slow down aging.

According to the study loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur in those who exercise regularly, EurokAlert reports.

The study recruited 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79, 84 of which were male and 41 were female.

More surprisingly, the study also revealed that the benefits of exercise extend beyond muscle as the cyclists also had an immune system that did not seem to have aged either.

An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T cells, starts to shrink from the age of 20 and makes less T cells. In this study, however, the cyclists' thymuses were making as many T cells as those of a young person.

Professor Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: "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."

Professor Stephen Harridge, Director of the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King's College London, said: "The findings emphasise the fact that the cyclists do not exercise because they are healthy, but that they are healthy because they have been exercising for such a large proportion of their lives.

"Their bodies have been allowed to age optimally, free from the problems usually caused by inactivity. Remove the activity and their health would likely deteriorate."

The research findings are detailed in two papers published in Aging Cell and are the result of an ongoing joint study by the two universities, funded by the BUPA foundation.

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

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