Staying fit as you age keeps you young

cyclist-bike-2We often hear that nothing stops the physical decline of aging. But research consistently demonstrates otherwise.

Research published in 2011 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.

Brand new research out this week has found that highly active older adults are fitter than previously thought … and younger.

In a new study, published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach, not least that they tested humans instead of mice.

They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.

Scientists recruited men and women between 55 and 79 who were serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes.

In comparison to their younger counterparts, these active older adults performed far beyond expectations. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.

Only muscular power, muscular mass, and aerobic endurance succumbed to the ravages of time. If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, it would be impossible. On paper, they all look young. The numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active.

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