Exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining, study finds

Being physically active in old age will help people respond better to vaccines

Doing lots of exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining and protect people against infections, say scientists.


They followed 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds, BBC reports.


If exercise WAS a pill, everyone would BE taking it. It has wide-ranging benefits for the body, the mind, for our muscles and our immune system, "comments Prof. Norman Lazarus, 82, of King's College London ,  who took part in and co-authored the research.


Listen to Prof Norman Lazarus in this BBC video.


They found that the endurance cyclists were producing the same level of T-cells as adults in their 20s, while a group of inactive older adults were producing very few.


The researchers believe that being physically active in the elderly will help people better respond to vaccines, so be better protected against infections such as influenza.


Being a sedentary goes against evolution because people are designed to be physically active. You are not a competitive athlete to reap the benefits - or be an endurance cyclist - anything that gets you moving and a bit out of puff will help "comments Steve Harridge, co-author and professor of physiology at King's College London. 


The research was published in the journal  Aging Cell.