A Lifetime of Exercise Slows Down Father Time
With significant interest in the mature athlete and aging in general, I found recent articles by Pollock and Duggal et al, in the journal The Aging Cellquite interesting. As we are aware, aging is associated with many physical and cognitive changes. Common physical problems may include immune, hormonal and muscle changes. An example is sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle as we age, which has concomitant loss of muscle mass as well as changes in contractile function.
This research group from the UK has evaluated greater than 125 active male and female cyclists aged 55-79 year old in regards to muscle findings and physiological functions. This group would be considered active as the men were able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours and the women 60km in under 5.5 hours.
They compared these adults to a group that did not participate in regular physical activity ages 20 to 80. The study showed that regular exercise diminished the loss of muscle and strength with age. In addition, they had lower body fat and total cholesterol and the men’s testosterone remained higher than the non-exercisers. In addition, the cyclist’s immune system appeared to have less aging as their thymus, which makes our T cells, continued to make T cells similar to the younger population. In the second study, they evaluated vastus lateralis muscle biopsy samples from a subset of these cyclists (n=90). They concluded that exercise was able to mitigate most of the effects of inactivity and aging across the age groups studied.
Very interesting research on the powerful effects of a lifetime of exercise. Be sure to have an active day.
Ross D. Pollock, Katie A. O'Brien, Lorna J. Daniels, Kathrine B. Nielsen, Anthea Rowlerson, Niharika A. Duggal, Norman R. Lazarus, Janet M. Lord, Andrew Philp, Stephen D. R. Harridge. Properties of the vastus lateralis muscle in relation to age and physiological function in master cyclists aged 55-79 years. Aging Cell, 2018; e12735 DOI: 10.1111/acel.12735
Duggal et al. Major features of Immunesenescence, including Thymic atrophy, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood. Aging Cell, 2018