As I am very interested in the subject of “successful aging” and cycling, a recent article in the journal “Aging Cell” was very interesting. Duggal et al assessed 125 cyclists, adults 55 years old and older, who had maintained a high level of physical activity. They compared immune profiles to age-matched older adults and a group of younger adults not involved in regular physical activity.
The decline of the immune system, immunesenescence, has been assumed to be an inherent part of aging, characterized by immunodeficiency and systemic inflammation. This decline in our immune system contributes to increased risk of infections, inflammatory diseases and poor vaccine efficacy as we age. However, the authors of this article point out those studies on this topic have not evaluated the impact of regular exercise. With this study of cyclists, they show significant maintenance of T cell function in the mature cyclists, which is an essential part of our immune system. They conclude that many features of immunesenescence, or that decline of our immune system, may be a result of less physical activity as we age.
Just another reminder of the importance of regular physical activity as we age. Be sure to get your daily dose of exercise as medicine.
Duggal, NA., et al. Major features of immunesenescence, including reduced thymic output, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood. Aging Cell, 2018.