Lifelong Exercise Halts Markers of Aging, Immune System Decline

Alan R. Jacobs, MD


February 01, 2019

This is the Medscape Neurology Minute. I’m Dr Alan Jacobs.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Kings College London have published a study[1,2] assessing the effects of lifelong regular exercise on the rate of aging. The study included older (55-79 years), highly active adults who had exercised for most of their adult lives. Men had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours, and women 60 km in under 5.5 hours. The muscle and in vivo physiologic functions of these participants were then compared with those of healthy adults aged 57-80 and healthy young adults aged 20-36, none of whom partook in regular exercise.

Researchers found that muscle fiber type and composition, size, and mitochondrial protein content showed no association with age. However, they did find that in males, type 1 fibers and capillary density were significantly associated with training volume, maximum oxygen uptake, oxygen uptake kinetics, and ventilatory threshold; whereas in females, capillary density was associated with training volume. Male subjects also failed to increase body fat and cholesterol levels with age and experienced no declines in testosterone levels. Moreover, the thymus glands of the subjects made T cells at the same rate as young people, a marker of immune system competency.

The researchers concluded that there is strong evidence that commitment to regular exercise throughout life is a viable solution to remaining healthy as we live longer.

This has been the Medscape Neurology Minute. I am Dr Alan Jacobs.


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