Regular exercise can offset the physical effects of ageing, study findings show.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham and King's College London have decided to assess the health of a group of adults who claimed to have stayed consistently active most of their life and recruited 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 for their study.
The 84 male participants taking part had to prove they could cycle 100km in under six and a half hours, while the women had to reach 60km in five and a half hours.
None of the individuals were smokers or heavy drinkers, nor did they have any health conditions such as high blood pressure.
This group were compared to a sample of adults who did not take part in regular physical exercise, and the results revealed that those that did exercise, maintained muscle mass and strength, and surprisingly, the men's testosterone levels also remained high, suggesting that exercise can override the effects of male menopause.
The cyclists also appeared to possess immune systems that had shown no signs of ageing and were producing as many immune 'T-cells' as a younger person in the other group.
"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," said Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, at the University of Birmingham.
While her colleague, Dr. Niharika Arora Duggal, hoped that "as a society, we accept that old age and disease are normal bedfellows and that the third age of man is something to be endured and not enjoyed."