20 Mar Is There a “Magic Pill” That Will Help You Stay Healthy Into Old Age? The Science Behind How Seniors Are Staying Fit and in Fighting Shape
Is There a “Magic Pill” That Will Help You Stay Healthy Into Old Age? The Science Behind How Seniors Are Staying Fit and in Fighting Shape
What if we told you that there basically is a “magic pill” that helps you age well and can keep your body healthy into old age? Based on a study we read about in a recently featured BBC.com health article, it’s true – however, don’t rush to your Amazon Prime account just yet. You won’t be able to just pop an actual pill and enjoy the benefits of a super-charged immune system, but if you take steps now you might just have a college-age immune system and stay healthy when you’re well past retirement-age.
The BBC.com article profiled a recent study co-authored, as well as participated in by, an octogenarian professor at King’s College London. What the study found is that regular exercise in the elderly – vigorous enough to cause some harder breathing – can build up the immune system to the point that the participants enjoyed similar immune markings as study members in their 20s! The study followed a group of 125 regular long-distance cyclists. The article notes that with age, the immune system typically declines by 2-3% per year from our 20s on; however, this group did not fall prey to the average immunity lost by their inactive peers! In fact, the elderly cyclists were tested for T-cell count, a marker of immune reactivity and robustness; they were found to have similar levels to 20-somethings. Conversely, sedentary peers were found to have a limited number of T-cells – marking a notable decline in immune health.
This is an impressive finding: the article notes that the immune system handles both routine infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and potentially cancer. Older people with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer complications like pneumonia after illness, for example. One only has to look at this year’s tough flu season here in the US for confirmation of that statistic. By remaining active well into advanced age, active seniors can take a role in their own health by safe-guarding their immune systems and helping to prevent dangerous complications. According to the BBC data, the study also indicates that a healthier immune system in seniors will pay off in better vaccine response, which would provide protection against the flu. Should active seniors become ill, having a robust immune system will also increase their odds for a faster healing rate.
While the study looked at a group of cyclists, they also point out that cycling isn’t the only activity to increase immune health in older folks. The group profiled just enjoyed cycling, which adds to the likelihood that they’ll continue to do so – a major factor in motivating anyone to keep up with exercise.
The study’s co-author said, “If exercise was (sic) a pill, everyone would be taking it.” While not as easy as popping a vitamin with your morning coffee, committing to an activity you enjoy and will stick with can make all the difference in enjoying your golden years. Routine exercise can benefit everyone mentally and physically; this latest study just proves how much seniors can benefit from carrying their favorite hobbies into their retirement.
At Body One Physical Therapy we work with clients of all ages and activity levels. We’d love to help get you motivated and feeling your best. Our team of highly-trained and caring professionals are here to help – schedule your appointment today. We are locally-owned with three locations serving central Indiana: North Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers. Start planning your healthy retirement body today!