Cycling Slows Down Ageing by Boosting Immune System, Finds Study

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Carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham and King's College London, the study set out to look at whether a lifetime of exercise had slowed down aging in a group of older adult participants. They also maintained stable levels of body fat and cholesterol.

The researchers found these cyclists have higher levels of freshly made T-cells, which play an important role in one's immune response, such as recognizing and killing foreign invaders.

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.

British researchers tested the muscles and immune systems of a group of middle-aged and elderly cyclists and compared them to younger people who do not exercise regularly. Make it a habit to exercise regularly for life, a study has suggested.

"The data support the view that high levels of exercise training are able to maintain numerous properties of muscle which are negatively affected by aging when it is accompanied by sedentary behaviour", the authors wrote in their conclusion.

"Hippocrates in 400BC said that exercise is man's best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society", Janet Lord, co-author of the study and director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, told the Guardian.

He added saying, "However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us frailer".

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.

Surprisingly, even cyclists as old as 79 were in better shape in terms of muscles and immune systems than their peers that were 30 years younger but did not exercise.

Usually, people's immune systems get weaker when hitting age 20, while muscles start to shed mass every year starting age 30.

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. Almost everybody can partake in an exercise that is in keeping with their own physiological capabilities. "You will reap the rewards in later life by enjoying an independent and productive old age".

The findings can be found detailed in two papers published online in the journal Aging Cell.