Two new scientific studies are showing that elderly cyclists who continue to exercise aren’t just spinning their wheels.
While an estimated 10 percent of seniors older than 65 work out regularly, scientists have found that those with more active lifestyles have significant physical differences from those who are more sedentary.
Dozens of male and female bike riders between the ages of 55 and 79 who still pedaled about 400 miles per month were studied by British scientists for a 2014 study. They concluded the cyclists “had reflexes, memories, balance and metabolic profiles that more closely resembled those of 30-year-olds than of the sedentary older group,” according to The New York Times.
The work continued with two new studies — published in Aging Cell this month — which looked at muscles and T cells, an important part of the immune system.
With biopsied muscle tissue from the subjects, the scientists discovered muscles “generally retained their size, fiber composition and other markers of good health across the decades,” The Times reported.
“The impacts on riders’ immune system also were marked. In the older sedentary people, the output of new T cells from the thymus glands was low. The inactive older peoples’ thymus glands also were atrophied, compared to those of the younger group,” explained science writer Gretchen Reynolds.
“The aging cyclists, on the other hand, had almost as many new T cells in their blood as did the young people.”
The scientists involved hope their work proves that aging may not be controllable, but many of its effects can be.
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