Biking for long life.

Did we just mention exercise slowing down time? NPR has a whole ‘noter story on muscular effort changing the progress of time. This is a survey of studies that find regular bicycling can prevent or repair all sorts of age-related damage, from arthritic knees to overall longevity:

The study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, and published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s flagship peer-reviewed journal, included about 2,600 men and women, with an average age of 64 years old. They were surveyed about their physical activity over their lifetime. As part of the study, researchers took X-ray images to evaluate signs of arthritis in their knee joints. “Bicyclers were 21% less likely to have X-ray evidence and symptoms of osteoarthritis compared to those who did not have a history of bicycling,” explains study author Dr. Grace Lo of Baylor College of Medicine.

“I was surprised to see how very strong the benefit was,” Lo says given the profile of the participants. The people enrolled in the study were not competitive athletes, but rather “average” people, ranging from their mid-40’s up to 80 years old. All of them had elevated risks of developing knee arthritis due to weight, family history or former injuries.

“There’s good data to support that people live longer when they bicycle,” says Lo. She points to a study that found people who cycled one hour per week were about 22% less likely to die prematurely. This was a study of people with diabetes, so it’s possible that the benefits are greater for people without the disease.

You can read more of the arthritis study here, in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.