New research once again underscores the value of and need your body has for regular exercise. In one study,1 older adults who exercised regularly were shown to have stronger immune systems, as evidenced by higher T-cell activity, than their nonexercising peers. While you might expect such a result, researchers found the immune function of this particular group of very active adult cyclists, ages 55 to 79, to be comparable to young adults in their 20s!
Related research indicates a pattern of lifelong exercise also enables you to retain healthy levels of muscle mass, muscle strength, body fat and cholesterol as you age. In a separate study,2 moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise at least four days a week was shown to boost the heart health and circulatory function of middle-aged adults, as compared to more moderate exercise three days a week.
If you have been putting off exercise, now is the time to reprioritize it, especially if you’re over 45. One researcher called these middle years the “sweet spot” for your heart and blood vessels because they still have some plasticity, and exercise promotes elasticity and oxygen flow. Whatever you do, reduce the amount of time you spend sitting and look for ways to get more exercise and movement into your daily routine. You’re certain to feel better and your immune system and heart will thank you.
Fit Older Adults Have Stronger Immune Systems
New research published in the journal Aging Cell3 highlights the importance of exercise for older adults, noting the positive effect it can have on your immune system. Previous studies have validated the health benefits of exercise, at all ages, to prevent conditions such as back pain, bone loss, physical disability and cognitive decline.
In the current body of work,4 researchers in the U.K. analyzed the blood of 125 very active adult cyclists, ages 55 to 79, for markers of T-cells. T-cells, which help your immune system fight infections, are produced in your thymus, a gland that gradually shrinks as you age.