An Active Lifestyle As You Age Keeps You Young.

Nothing stops the physical decline of aging. But new research has found that highly active older adults are fitter than previously thought.

“Scientists recruited men and women between 55 and 79 who were serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes.”

In comparison to their younger counterparts, these active older adults performed far beyond expectations.

“On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.”

Only muscular power, muscular mass, and aerobic endurance succumbed to the ravages of time. “If you gave this data set to a clinician and asked him to predict the age of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, it would be impossible.

On paper, they all look young. The numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active.”

Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, said Dr. Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London.

He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging

But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

References & Further Reading:
1. NY Times
2. Photo By Getty Images.

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