Cycling keeps your immune system young, study finds

I saw this article in the Guardian. There is hope for me yet.


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Whilst I love the sentiment expressed, the quote from the article below makes me think that maybe regular physical activity is the key and not necessarily cycling?

'Scientists carried out tests on 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them with healthy adults from a wide age group who did not exercise regularly.'

Perhaps compare immune systems in amateur cyclists with other amateur exercisers... 


The BBC story of the same study.

Note James it is more than a cycling or exercise effect as all the study participants were members of Audax ! so must have been the effect of being nutters or, being UK Audax, riding a bike with rack / fenders / big bags

"..They are members of Audax, a long-distance cycling organisation that organises events ranging from 100km to 300 1200+km.

The older members - in their 80s - say they do only the "short" 100km rides.."

Sprinters over 80

I actually managed to find the study - and it's open access! (For those of us who aren't physiologists, a skim through the Discussion and a read of the Conclusion will probably do.)

It's not explicitly stated anywhere *why* they picked cyclists (and thus a comparison with any other type of exercisers just isn't part of the study design), but I'm going to suggest that:

(a) Audax (which isn't actually mentioned by name in the paper) was the easiest way to reach a large number of regularly-exercising and fit older people, both men and women, and
(b) many other types of 'organised' exercise didn't have sufficiently-large populations of older participants to allow them to form a cohort to test with.
Over recent weeks I've been reminded of a quote about touring cyclists that could probably relate to Audaxers as well. I think it goes

Touring cyclists travel the world in search of their marbles.

i had a good collection once.

That is good news and I'm not surprised by the findings.

I suspect that older cyclists would on the average have healthier diets than the general population and this could skew the statistics a little but none the less it seems a fact that cycling has a host of health benefits

But do keep up some walking and load bearing exercises and general jumping about, as cyclists may not  have good bone density in legs and spine. I've always said "why walk when you can ride", but maybe it's the other way round. 

Indeed, we need either load bearing or impact exercise or better still both, however impact exercise is not suitable for most older people.  We can get load bearing from some body weight exercises such as pushups and single leg squats

The old saying "use it or lose it" is spot on when it comes to bone density

The findings where where I'd anticipate them to be.  What was good about that article is the explanation of the findings


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