We already know that regular exercise reduces risk of diseases associated with aging, like cardiovascular problems.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham and King's College London, the study set out to look at whether a lifetime of exercise had slowed down aging in a group of older adult participants.
Cyclists who took part in the study had to be able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours, while women had to cover 60km in 5.5 hours. People who smoked, drank heavily or had other health problems were not included.
Even more surprisingly, the researchers also found that exercise appeared to have an anti-aging effect on the immune systems of the cyclists, as well as their muscles.
They have half the body fat of men their age who do not cycle, at 20 per cent rather than 30 per cent fat.
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More research is needed, but the researchers write in the report that aging is complex process that involves many factors like genetics, environment and lifestyle, and that their research suggests that physical activity-or inactivity-can be an important driver in how people age and how well their immune systems function. 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. Be that as it may, the thymuses of more seasoned cyclists were observed to create the same number of T-cells as those of youngsters.
Taking about ageing, The Guardian quoted Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham as saying, "Hippocrates in 400BC said that exercise is man's best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society".
"Their bodies have been allowed to age optimally, free from the problems usually caused by inactivity".