Body Health Editorial

Turns Out You Might Be Able to Control How You Age

turns out you control how you age zosia

Exercise for middle age to older adults is typically rare. This fact is a problem because it means there is limited data on the impact of exercise on the body and mind as adults age. Our ideas about aging are based on sedentary people. Everybody reacts differently to aging. Some people stay spry well into their years. As an article in the New York Times by Gretchen Reynolds recounts, a series of recent studies set out to understand why and shows that regular exercise plays a significant role in aging.

The experiments add to growing evidence that some of our assumptions about aging may be outdated and we might have more control over the process than we think.

Muscle condition and immune response deteriorate as we age, accelerating throughout the decades. Studies started in 2014 by British scientists followed recreational cyclists in their later years and proved that exercise helps to slow these aging processes. The scientist compared the impact of consistent exercise by cyclists ages 55 to 79 to sedentary people of the same age range. 

In the first study, the active cyclist group had overall reflexes and metabolic profiles that looked more like 30-year old’s. In the later studies, muscle tissue was biopsied from the legs of riders to compare its health and found that the tissue better maintained its size and composition. The scientists also studied the immune system and looked at the number T cells in the cyclist’s blood and found that it remained high like younger people versus the T cell level in the sedentary group which was very low.  The cyclists also had high levels of other immune cells that help to stave off autoimmune issues.

…older cyclists are not like most of the rest of us. They are healthier. They are, biologically, younger.

Not surprisingly, the moral of the story is “stay active.” There are many choices. If you aren’t doing anything now, start with something simple like power walking or beginner’s yoga and work up from there. Staying active is critical to living your best life and helping your body and mind to age well.

  • Jacek Chabraszewski/Shutterstock

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