Cycling can hold back the effects of ageing and rejuvenate the immune system, a study has found.
Scientists carried out tests on 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them with healthy adults from a wide age group who did not exercise regularly.
More surprisingly, the anti-ageing effects of cycling appeared to extend to the immune system.
An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells, normally starts to shrink from the age of 20. But the thymuses of older cyclists were found to be generating as many T-cells as those of young people.
Prof Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said, “Hippocrates said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society.”
She added, “Our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail. There is strong evidence that encourage people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives as it is a viable solution to the problem, that we are living longer but not healthier.”
Male cyclists taking part in the study had to be able to cycle 100 kms in under 6.5 hours, while women had to cover 60 kms in 5.5 hours.
The non-exercising group consisted of 75 healthy people aged 57 to 80 and 55 young adults aged 20 to 36.
Many other studies have also shown the remarkable health benefits of cycling. A study published in the BMJ last April found that regular cycling cut the risk of death from all causes by more than 40%, and cut the risk of cancer and heart disease by 45%.
Experts also believe cycling boosts riders’ mental health, with multiple studies finding that those who commute by bicycle are happier and less prone to depression than those who use any other form of transport.
Source: The Guardian