It is well known that cycling makes you healthier, even if you are breathing in the fumes of London’s roads. What hasn’t been known until now is how it helps you live a better life into old age.
New research shows that older people’s immune systems are improved, stopping them from getting flu and other bugs. Another piece of research has shown that older people who cycle longer distances lose less muscle mass and thereby remain more mobile for longer.
125 older, long distance cyclists were followed by scientists who found that those doing longer rides have as good immune systems as people in their 20’s. These riders included some men and women who were in their 20’s.
Prof Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham told the BBC, “The immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and, potentially, cancer. Because the cyclists have the immune system of a 20-year-old rather than a 70- or 80-year-old, it means they have added protection against all these issues.”
Another paper in the same journal showed that long distance cyclists also retained muscle mass and didn’t put on weight in fat. That means that cyclists are leaner and stronger than those who are sedentary.
Looking for an enjoyable hobby that comes with health benefits to boot? Get cycling!