Exercises like cycling can hold back the effects of ageing and keep people young in profound ways, a new study has found.
Activities like regularly riding a bike appear to undo the assumption that we get more frail as we get older, the authors of the new research claim.
The studies compared data on amateur cyclists with healthy adults that did not regularly exercise. It found that those who were exercising seemed to be preserving many parts of their health.
The findings showed that the cyclists preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol. In men, testosterone levels remained high.
More surprisingly, the anti-ageing effects of cycling appeared to extend to the immune system.
An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells normally starts to shrink from the age of 20. But the thymuses of older cyclists were found to be generating as many T-cells as those of young individuals.
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.”