Everyone is searching for the secret to keeping them young.
While it’s safe to say that dieting and exercise is at the top of recommended practices by health professionals in order to maintain youthfulness, new research has found that one of the first lessons in life might be the key to keeping you young.
In a new study conducted by a team at Humboldt State University, researchers found that bicycling has extreme benefits in older adults looking to remain fit and youthful. The study, published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, aimed to find whether regular biking exercise affects “walking metabolic costs in older adults,” according to the study’s mission statement.
The study honed in on adults over the age of 65, where some walk and others bike for exercise purposes. Researchers determined that people who biked at least 30 minutes, three times a week were less likely to experience a physical decline due to age compared to those who simply stuck to a walking exercise plan for the same exercise duration.
“What we found is that older adults who regularly participate in high aerobic activities—bicycling in particular—have what we call a lower metabolic cost of walking than older adults who walk for exercise,” said Humboldt State University Kinesiology Professor Justus Ortega in a press release. “In fact, their metabolic cost of walking is similar to young adults in their 20s.”
In addition to decreased age-related physical decline, researchers said older people who biked were 9-17% more efficient at walking compared to the group that didn’t bike.
Ortega, along with Daniel Aslan, co-authored the study, and the pair were keen on finding out how metabolic cost wanes as we age. Metabolic cost is simply just the energy needed to move. As we age, it increases and makes things like walking more difficult and tiring, which is why morbidity is more frequent with aging due to the decline in exercise.
The study looked at 49 health adults in various age brackets, but 16 healthy older adults used walking as exercises while 17 chose to bike for exercise. The two older brackets had participants who were at least 65 years of age. Both older groups either biked or walked for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week. For the study, both groups were asked to walk on a treadmill at different speeds to measure oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production.
Here’s what researchers concluded in the study:
Regular moderate to vigorous bicycling exercise maintains a more youthful metabolic cost of walking in older adults. However, the normal age-related decline in walking economy still exists in older walkers. It is possible that factors that affect metabolic energy consumption, such as muscular efficiency, may be improved by participation in vigorous aerobic exercise and therefore, explain the improved walking economy observed in older bicyclists.
While researchers aren’t certain as to what makes cyclists feel younger than walkers, they said they believe it has something to do with mitochondria found in cells. Mitochondria is essentially a fuel that utilizes energy and it’s often found in food.
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