Regular Exercise Slows Down Aging
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Results of a study by British researchers indicated that old people who have exercised regularly have defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham and King's College London set out to assess the health of older adults who had exercised most of their adult lives to see if this could slow down aging.
The study recruited 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79, 84 of which were male and 41 were female. The men had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours, while the women had to be able to cycle 60 km in 5.5 hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded from the study.
The participants underwent a series of tests in the laboratory and were compared to a group of adults who do not partake in regular physical activity. This group consisted of 75 healthy people aged 57 to 80 and 55 healthy young adults aged 20 to 36.
The study showed that loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur in those who exercise regularly. The cyclists also did not increase their body fat or cholesterol levels with age and the men's testosterone levels also remained high, suggesting that they may have avoided most of the male menopause.
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.
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.