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Exercising throughout life is the secret to slowing down ageing

by , 19 March 2018
Exercising throughout life is the secret to slowing down ageing
Everyone knows that exercise makes you feel happier, helps with weight loss, is good for muscles and bones, increases energy levels, reduces risk of chronic disease, improves skill health and boosts brainpower and memory.

What you probably didn't know is that keeping active throughout life could also help keep your body younger and healthier as you age. This is according to new UK research published online in the journal Aging Cell. Keep reading for more.

Study shows that a lifetime of exercise slows down ageing

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London, who set out to look at if a lifetime of exercise had slowed down ageing in a group of older adult participants.

The researchers looked at 125 male and female subjects between ages 55 and 79 who were all amateur cyclists who’d been cycling for nearly all of their adult lives. The subjects provided muscle biopsy samples and blood samples, which the researchers compared to a group of healthy adults who didn’t take part in regular physical activity. This group consisted of 55 young adults between ages 20 and 36, and 75 older adults between ages 57 and 80.

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The team found that unlike those in the sedentary group, those in the cycling group didn’t experience loss of muscle mass and strength, which is often believed to be a normal part of the ageing process. What’s more, their body fat and cholesterol levels hadn’t increased with age, and the men’s testosterone levels had also remained high rather than declined with age. This suggests that the men may have avoided so-called male menopause.
 

Exercise also has an anti-ageing effect on the immune system

Even more surprisingly, the team found that exercise had an anti-ageing effect on the immune system of the cyclists, as well as their muscles. The thymus, an organ that makes immune cells called T cells, start to shrink and makes less T cells from the age of 20. However, the team found that the cyclists’ thymuses were making as many T cells as those of a young person.
 
“We hope that these 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,” said Dr Niharika Arora Duggal from the University of Birmingham.

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