A recent British study revealed that many active bicycle riders, aged 55 to 79, functioned physically just as well as much younger people.
biking slows aging
Participants, aged 55 to 79
Women had to be able to ride 60 km (37 miles) in 5.5 hours; men had to be able to ride 100 km (62 miles) in under 6.5 hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers, and those with high blood pressure or other health issues were excluded from the study.
A physiological profile of each person was taken. It included: measures of cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions; bone strength, and overall health and well-being. Participants' reflexes, muscle strength, oxygen uptake during exercise and peak explosive cycling power were also determined.
Standard test of function
A typical test of over-all function in older people—the time taken to stand up from a chair, walk 3 meters (ten feet), 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. The results for even the oldest participants were well below these levels, fitting well within the norm for healthy young adults.
While further study is needed to understand the individual nature of aging in general, Emeritus Professor Lazarus, a member of the study team, felt the study justified making the following comments: "Inevitably, our bodies will experience some decline with age, but staying physically active can buy you extra years of function compared to sedentary people. Cycling not only keeps you mentally alert, but requires the vigorous use of many of the body's key systems, such as your muscles, heart and lungs which you need for maintaining health and for reducing the risks associated with numerous diseases."
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