Study: Active Lifestyle Slows Down Aging

Being inactive can speed up the aging process and promote physical decline. That’s the conclusion offered by a new study on the positive effects of exercise on the aging process.

The study was recently published in The Journal of Physiology by a team of scientists from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England.

Published on Jan. 6, the study is titled: “An investigation into the relationship between age and physiological function in highly active older adults.”  The researchers tracked cyclists between the ages of 55 and 79.

“Each participant underwent a detailed physiological profiling which included measures of cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions, bone strength, and health and well-being,” according to the research report.

The conclusion: Older people who remain active were  very similar physiologically to those who were much younger. What’s more, so many lifestyle and genetic factors contribute to the aging process, including “nutrition, healthcare and insufficient levels of physical activity as well as other environmental factors.”  The bottom line: you may have more control over the aging process than you may realize, health experts say.

“Our credo is ‘never slow down,’ even for people in their 70s and 80s,” said Mark Caruso, M.D., a primary care physician at Baptist Health Medical Group. “We are a huge proponent of exercise for people of all ages. As you get older, cross training (aerobics and weights) benefits bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis.”

Even mild-to-moderate exercise can benefit older adults afflicted with arthritis and other chronic conditions that restrict mobility. Many studies have found that staying physically active can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.  “I champion exercise for everyone on a daily basis,”  Dr. Caruso said. “I tell patients to start out at 3 to 4 days a week. I ask people who are retired: Do you have 20 minutes a day for brisk walking? The CDC offers these physical activity guidelines for older adults.

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