Want to stay healthy? Stay active – and start early, science says

UK researchers have found a lifetime of regular exercise can slow down the effects of ageing – to the point that a person in their 80’s could have the immune system of a much younger person. 

They looked at 125 male and female cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them to two health groups who didn’t do any regular physical activity – one aged 57 to 80 and the other aged 20 to 36. 

Participants who exercised regularly didn’t lose the muscle mass or strength or increase their body fat and cholesterol as they aged. For the men, their testosterone levels also stayed high. 

Exercise is man’s best medicine 

In the body, the thymus gland creates immune cells called T cells, but after the age of 20, it starts to shrink. But the cyclists’ thymuses were still producing the same amount of T cells as someone in their 20’s. 

It backs up the idea that it’s not ageing that makes us frail as we get older, but being sedentary. 

So what if you’ve never exercised? 

Harvard University in the US recently published a list of the five best exercises for your brain and body at any age – and they are ones that most of us can manage. 

  1. Swimming – raises the heart rate without straining the body 
  1. Tai chi – good for balance and suits a range of fitness levels 
  1. Strength training – regular resistance training builds muscle and strength 
  1. Walking – even 30 minutes can benefit the mind and body 
  1. Kegels exercises – important for both women and men 

Worth putting on the Lycra? 

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Antonia Norris

Researcher and Contributor

Antonia has led the operations and growth of the agedcare101.com.au and villages.com.au within the DCM Group in Australia and New Zealand for several years. This has included the research and creation agedcare101 in 2016, the creation of the DCM Institute and Te Ara Institute, the joint contribution of Care & Living with Mercer (CaLM) and the TV series, The Best 30 Years, screened on NINE nationally.

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Journalist

Journalist

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.