Active lifestyle may delay physiological effects of aging

From Medical XPress:

Exercise allows you to age optimally

exercise
Credit: Peter Griffin/Public Domain

 

Staying active allows you to age optimally, according to a study by King’s College London and the University of Birmingham. The study of amateur older cyclists found that many had levels of physiological function that would place them at a much younger age compared to the general population; debunking the common assumption that ageing automatically makes you more frail.

The study, published in The Journal of Physiology, recruited 84 male and 41 female cycling enthusiasts aged 55 to 79 to explore how the ageing process affects the human body, and whether specific physiological markers can be used to determine your age.

Cyclists were recruited to exclude the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, which can aggravate health problems and cause changes in the body, which might appear to be due to the ageing process. Men and women had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours and 60 km in 5.5 hours, respectively, to be included in the study. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with or other health conditions were excluded from the study.

Participants underwent two days of laboratory testing at King’s. For each participant, a physiological profile was established which included measures of cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions, bone strength, and health and well-being. Volunteers’ reflexes, , oxygen uptake during exercise and peak explosive cycling power were determined.

The results of the study showed that in these individuals, the effects of ageing were far from obvious. Indeed, people of different ages could have similar levels of function such as muscle strength, lung power and exercise capacity. The maximum rate of oxygen consumption showed the closest association with age, but even this marker could not identify with any degree of accuracy the age of any given individual, which would be the requirement for any useful biomarker of ageing.

In a basic, but important test of function in older people, the time taken to stand from a chair, walk three metres, turn, walk back and sit down was also measured. Taking more than 15 seconds to complete the task generally indicates a high risk of falling. Even the oldest participants in the present study fell well below these levels, fitting well within the norm for healthy young adults.

Overall, the study concluded that ageing is likely to be a highly individualist phenomenon. As people are so different, the team concluded that more studies are needed which follow the same healthy and exercising individuals over time to better understand the effects of ageing the body.

The study, published in The Journal of Physiology, recruited 84 male and 41 female cycling enthusiasts aged 55 to 79 to explore how the ageing process affects the human body, and whether specific physiological markers can be used to determine your age.

Cyclists were recruited to exclude the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, which can aggravate health problems and cause changes in the body, which might appear to be due to the ageing process. Men and women had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours and 60 km in 5.5 hours, respectively, to be included in the study. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with or other health conditions were excluded from the study.

Participants underwent two days of laboratory testing at King’s. For each participant, a physiological profile was established which included measures of cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions, bone strength, and health and well-being. Volunteers’ reflexes, , oxygen uptake during exercise and peak explosive cycling power were determined.

The results of the study showed that in these individuals, the effects of ageing were far from obvious. Indeed, people of different ages could have similar levels of function such as muscle strength, lung power and exercise capacity. The maximum rate of oxygen consumption showed the closest association with age, but even this marker could not identify with any degree of accuracy the age of any given individual, which would be the requirement for any useful biomarker of ageing.

In a basic, but important test of function in older people, the time taken to stand from a chair, walk three metres, turn, walk back and sit down was also measured. Taking more than 15 seconds to complete the task generally indicates a high risk of falling. Even the oldest participants in the present study fell well below these levels, fitting well within the norm for healthy young adults.

Overall, the study concluded that ageing is likely to be a highly individualist phenomenon. As people are so different, the team concluded that more studies are needed which follow the same healthy and exercising individuals over time to better understand the effects of ageing the body.

Read more.

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