- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2018

The key to the fountain of youth is exercise, scientists concluded, in a study that found amateur cyclists over the age of 55 had biological markers similar to those of young and healthy individuals.

Researchers from Kings College London and the University of Birmingham examined benchmarks of health that typically decline with age on 125 male and female cyclists between the ages of 55 and 79.

The findings included that the cyclists, who were lifetime exercisers and had completed two, long-distance endurance rides prior to testing, preserved muscle mass better than a control group and that their immune systems functioned closely to that of a young adult in the peak of health.

The cyclists were also shown to have lower body fat and lower cholesterol, and the men had higher levels of testosterone than is typical at a certain age.

“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,” Janet Lord, co-author of the study and director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, told the Guardian.

“However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that aging automatically makes us more frail. Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”

The latest study was published Thursday in the journal Aging Cell and built on a previous work by the researchers published in 2015.

The observed amateur-athletes had to have completed two endurance cycling courses within the month prior to participation. This included 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) in under 6.5 hours for men and 60 km (37.3 miles) in under 5.5 hours for women. Their physical and biological characteristics were then tested and compared against a group of 75 healthy people between the ages of 57 and 88, as well as 55 young adults between the ages of 20 and 36, Newsweek reported.

“The data support the view that high levels of exercise training are able to maintain many of the properties of muscle which are negatively affected by aging when it is accompanied by sedentary behaviour,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.

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