Exercising can keep your immune system healthy, scientists say. People always look to fitness to keep their hearts fit and their weight down and we already know that exercise prevents from diseases associated with aging, like cardiovascular problems.
But now, researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London have found that doing exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining.
The researchers followed 125 long-distance cyclists aged 55 to 79. Male cyclists were able to complete 62 miles in less than 6.5 hours while the women had to be able to cycle 60 km in 5.5 hours.
Heavy drinkers, smokers, and those with other health problems were excluded from the study.
The researchers measured markers of health such as muscle mass, T cells, blood pressure, and cholesterol. After that, they compared the results from the lifetime exercisers to a group of adults who do not partake in the regular physical activity. This group involved 75 healthy people between the ages of 57 and 88, as well as 55 young adults between the ages of 20 and 36.
The study found that the older cyclists did not lose muscle mass and their body fat and cholesterol levels stayed healthy. But people who regularly hit the gym had the immune systems of much younger adults.
Norman Lazarus, Emeritus Professor at King’s College London and also a master cyclist and Dr. Ross Pollock, who undertook the muscle study, said, “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.”