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