Regular Activity

Posted on: 04 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A new study suggests that regular physical activity really does boost the immune system in older men.

A new study suggests that regular physical activity really does boost the immune system in older men.

Older men who say "I feel like a 25 year old," are often ignored as nothing more than wishful thinkers, but judging by the reaction of their immune system to a harmless protein, a study by the University of Colorado has found that it’s possible for men over 70 to have a similar response to that produced by much younger men. The results found that older men's immune systems could act as well as much younger men after only moderate physical activity of about six hours a week.

Previous studies have shown that regular moderate cardiovascular exercise such as walking or cycling may offset some of the immune functions that decline in healthy people as they age. However these earlier studies tested the effect of exercise on immune function using in vitro measures of immunity, which aren’t always predictive of how well the immune system will respond to such activity.

The researchers tested 50 healthy, young (20-35 years of age) and older (60-79) men, some physically active and some sedentary, and was the first study to clearly demonstrate in humans that a physically active lifestyle is associated with preventing age-associated decline in people as they get older.

The study suggests that aging produces a decline in one specific cell that is essential for a physically active lifestyle as we get older. The researchers believe that in the future accurate tests could be developed that will be able to predict how healthy a person is and even when they are likely to die.

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