Want to slow avoid the 'male menopause'? Jump on your bike

Cycling can delay the ageing process and keep the ‘male menopause’ at bay [Photo: Getty]
Cycling can delay the ageing process and keep the ‘male menopause’ at bay [Photo: Getty]

Cycling can be an effective way of keeping the ‘male menopause’ at bay, a new study has found.

The research analysed 125 cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them to healthy adults from a wide age group who did not exercise regularly.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham and King’s College London found that regularly jumping on your bike can help preserve muscle mass and strength while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol.

The research also revealed that testosterone levels remained high in the male cyclists, which may help to hold back symptoms of the ‘male menopause’ such as fatigue, low libido and depression.

The anti-ageing effects of cycling also appeared to extend to the immune system, which makes those who do it regularly less vulnerable to seasonal infections such as flu, norovirus and pneumonia.

Here comes the science bit… an organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells, normally starts to shrink from the age of 20.

But in older cyclists, thymus’ were found to be generating as many T-cells as those of much younger individuals.

Want to keep the ageing process at bay? Jump on your bike [Photo: Getty]
Want to keep the ageing process at bay? Jump on your bike [Photo: Getty]

Male cyclists taking part in the study had to be able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours while women had to cover 60km in 5.5 hours.

The non-exercising group consisted of 75 healthy people aged 57 to 80, and 55 young adults aged 20 to 36.

Commenting on the findings Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: “Hippocrates in 400 BC said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society.

“However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail.

“Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”

But before you rush out and panic buy a bike, the researchers say the benefits revealed in the study are likely to be similar with all forms of exercise.

Professor Stephen Harridge, director of the centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London, said: “The findings emphasise the fact that the cyclists do not exercise because they are healthy, but that they are healthy because they have been exercising for such a large proportion of their lives.

“Their bodies have been allowed to age optimally, free from the problems usually caused by inactivity. Remove the activity and their health would likely deteriorate.”

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