Researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London have found that regular exercise slows down ageing

The researchers set out to assess the health of older adults who had exercised most of their adult lives.

The study recruited 125 male and female amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 who were compared to a group of adults who do not partake in regular exercise.

Anti-ageing benefits of exercise

For regular exercisers, the study showed the following:

  • Loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur
  • Body fat and cholesterol levels did not increase with age
  • Men’s testosterone levels remained high, suggesting that they may have avoided most of the ‘male menopause’
  • Immune systems did not seem to have aged

How regular exercise keeps the immune system young

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.

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In this study, however, the cyclists’ thymuses were making as many T cells as those of a young person.

Related: Why regular walks are important for post-menopausal women

Exercise is the best medicine

“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,” says Professor Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

She says the findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us 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.”

The findings come as figures show that less than half of over-65s do enough exercise to stay healthy and more than half of those over 65 suffer from at least two diseases.*

“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,” advises Norman Lazarus, Emeritus Professor at King’s College London.

Source: University of Birmingham via

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