Research highlights benefits of cycling for adults

13.36 | 26 March 2018 |

High levels of cycling – in particular bouts of vigorous activity – slow down the pace of the aging process by reducing muscle decline and strengthening the immune system.

That’s the top line finding from a summary of peer-reviewed research prepared by Dr Adrian Davis, a visiting professor at the University of West England.

Dr Davis publishes a series of single page ‘essential evidence’ summaries to help disseminate academic research to road safety practitioners.

In his latest summary, ‘Age-related decline and cycling: new evidence’, Dr Davis says: “While aging is a fact of life, the pace of the aging process appears to be compounded by modern sedentary lifestyles.

“By contrast, high levels of cycling, which often include bouts of vigorous activity, results in little age-related muscle decline. Moreover, immune system decline with age is lessened by this type of physical activity.”

Dr Davis added: “Routine cycling has become a focus of research internationally given the co-health benefits derived from cycling as a utility transport mode in meeting access needs.

“Cycling tends to include bouts of vigorous physical activity which is especially beneficial in terms of improving cardiorespiratory fitness. Increased fitness is associated with improved health status including through lower blood pressure and less body fat.”

In the summary, Dr Davis points to two studies which he says ‘have added to the evidence base regarding age-related decline in health through the role of cycling as a form of physical activity’.

The first study examined the relationship between age and physiological function by looking at the thigh muscle cell health among high mileage cyclists aged 55-79 years. According to Dr Davis, various aspects of cell health were examined with little or no signs of aging.

The second addressed the gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural aging and what the effects were on the high mileage cyclists. It aimed to determine to what extent this deterioration with age may be a consequence of modern sedentary lifestyles rather than aging itself.

One important finding says Dr Davis was that T-cells, critical for immunity, did not decline in the cyclists but did in the control group.


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