London: Want to stay young? Exercise regularly as researchers have found that staying active may defy the process of ageing as well as it keeps you healthy.

The results indicated that that those who have exercised regularly have defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person.

“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,” said Janet Lord, professor at the University of Birmingham.

For the study, published in the journal Aging Cell, researchers recruited 125 amateur cyclists aged between 55 to 79. The men had to be able to cycle 100 kilometers in under 6.5 hours, while the women had to be able to cycle 60 kilometers in 5.5 hours.

Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded from the study.

The participants underwent a series of tests in the laboratory and were compared to a group of adults who do not partake in regular physical activity. This group consisted of 75 healthy people aged between 57 to 80 and 55 healthy young adults aged between 20 to 36.

The study showed that loss of muscle mass and strength did not occur in those who exercise regularly.

The cyclists also did not increase their body fat or cholesterol levels with age and the men’s testosterone levels also remained high.

The study also revealed that the benefits of exercise extend beyond muscle as the cyclists also had an immune system that did not seem to have aged either.

“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,” the researchers added.