Aging is one of the major setbacks to humans as it weakens their body fitness, making it dull and unhealthy. To find what can make an individual’s aging slow, the researchers of the University of Birmingham and King’s College London have found that keep ourselves active helps our body to be young and healthy.
As an experiment, the researchers set out to find the health conditions of older or senior aged adults who have exercised all their lives to see what best they have achieved to slowing down aging.
An Experiment On Cyclists
As per the study, the researchers arranged as many as 125 amateur cyclists with the age group between 55 to 79 years. Amongst these 125 cyclists, 84 of them were males and 41 were females. The men cyclists rode the cycle for 100 KMS in under 6.5 hours and women completed their task by cycling 60 KMS in 5.5 hours. The participants, before this experiment, were tested and then sorted to a group of two.
A group of heavy drinkers, smokers, people with blood pressure and many other health conditions were prohibited from this experiment.
The cyclists underwent a series of tests in the laboratory and were then compared with the group of adults who were not physically regular in their healthy activities. After the test, the participants were formed in a group of 70 people aged between 57 to 80 years and the other group of less than 60 healthy young adults that age between 20 to 36 years.
The researchers were also surprised to see that the benefits of exercise that extended beyond muscle. The cyclists also had a healthy immune system which has not been affected due to aging.
Other Outcomes Of This Experiment
The report further describes that these participants have a healthy thymus, an organ that makes immune cell called T cells. These T cells start shrinking as people enter in their 20s, making fewer T cells. In this study, the researchers found that the cyclist’s thymuses were healthy and made as many T cells like those of young people.
The research says the figures that show that less than half over 65s do enough daily exercise to stay fit and for those who age the half of over 65 likely to suffer from at least two diseases in their lives. The Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, Professor Janet Lord, believes & we quote:
“Hippocrates around 400 BC said that a man’s best medicine is exercise, but this message has got silent over the time, and we are an increasingly sedentary society”.
As per the other research on aging in people, the findings have debunked assumptions that aging can automatically make an individual weak and incapable.
Professor Janet Lord says,
“Our research means we now have strong evidence that encourages people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problems that we are living longer but not healthier.”
Other Researcher’s Opinion
At the King’s College London, the Director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Science, Professor Stephen Harridge says that “The findings emphasize the fact that the cyclists do not exercise because they are healthy, that they are healthy because they have been exercising for such a large proportion of their lives.”
Professor Stephen Harridge also believes that “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”.
Dr. Niharika Arora Duggal from the University of Birmingham says, “We hope our findings prevent the danger that, as a society, we accept that old age and disease are normal bedfellows and that the third age of man is something to be endured and not enjoyed.”
Norman Lazarus, Emeritus Professor at King’s College London and also a master cyclist and Dr. Ross Pollock, who underwent a muscle study, have both agreed that: “Most of us who exercise have nowhere near the physiological capabilities. Of elite athletes.”
They believe that “We exercise mainly to enjoy ourselves. Nearly everybody can partake in a regular fitness regime that is in keeping with their own physiological capabilities”.
The Professors suggests that “Find an exercise that you enjoy in whatever environment that suits you and make a habit of physical activity. You will reap the rewards in later life by enjoying an independent and productive old age”.
These research and studies are detailed and published in two papers in Aging cells, and there is also ongoing joint study by the two universities funded by the BUPA foundations. The researchers also hope to continue examinations and studies on the cyclists to see whether they continue to cycle and stay young or have any other effects affecting them.
Mikael is a health nutrition expert and loves mountain biking. Mikael started his health product research journey about 6 years ago and still loves doing it. Apart from spending time on his study, research & literature, he plays basketball regularly and is a fitness freak. Follow me on Linkedin