Intense cycling may leave you feeling weary, but it could be the secret to slowing ageing.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers have found that older cyclists show fewer signs of ageing when compared to non-cyclists.
Examining the physiological functions of more than 120 cycling volunteers aged between 55 and 79, scientists were unable to pinpoint obvious signs of ageing that you’d usually find among inactive people of the same age.
The volunteers were asked to cycle 100km in 6.5 hours for men and women were asked to cycle 60km in 5.5 hours. They were monitored for two days with tests to measure their cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions, not to mention bone strength and general health.
The results revealed that cyclists showed few of the usual signs of ageing.
“In general we didn’t find the ageing we would expect to see in this age profile,” said lead study author Steve Harridge of King’s College London. “We found some factors were correlated with ageing, but not strongly correlated, and some were not correlated at all.
It’s usually thought that there’s a direct connection between a decline in physiology and ageing, however researchers argue that inactivity is not necessarily inevitable for people as they age. “We’re not saying we’re reversing ageing but that cycling seems to optimise the ageing process.”
It’s no breakthrough that remaining physically fit will keep you in optimum health as you get older. Last year health experts claimed that just 30 minutes of walking per day can reduce the risk of age-related illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and some cancers.