What is the secret to eternal youth?
Do you want to know what is remarkable about Tour d’Afrique community, the cyclists who ride with us on our transcontinental tours? As you know many of them are in theirs 50s, 60s and even 70s yet they cover over a 100km per day on a bicycle day after day.
I will tell you what it is. They know a little secret that most of the world does not. Millions of men and women all over the world are looking for the elixir of youth, for that something special that will keep them young, healthy and attractive. All kinds of businesses, from plastic surgeries to special diets, foods and fashions, have emerged – all promising youth, health, lasting beauty and happiness. But somehow with all that effort and money – that elixir of youth has still eluded their best efforts.
And this is where the Tour d’Afrique community of long distance cyclists comes in. I mean, ask any of them what their friends and family say when they tell them they just cycled 10,000km. “I could never do that, you are amazing, unbelievable, how are you doing this at your age, etc, etc, etc.”
Except their age is not what it may appear to be. These cyclists in theirs 50s, 60s and 70 are actually much, much younger. In a recent study, Journal of Physiology researchers wanted to see how exercise affected aging in a group of highly active older adults. They looked at 84 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79. The researchers choose serious recreational cyclists because ‘cycling is balance-intensive, and it requires and builds physical strength without putting too much stress on joints’. The participants had to be able to cycle – guess how much -100km in six and half hours for men and 60km in five and half hours for women.
Afterwards, the participants were run through all sorts of physical and cognitive studies. And what were the results? Well, “the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age.” Yes you read it right – much closer to that of young adult.
“If you gave this data set to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge the senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young.
I can also tell Dr. Harridge that not only do they look young on paper, but they also think young. They know how to enjoy themselves and they have an abidding curiosity. As in the famous bestseller, the Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, they know that answer to the youth elixir is not hidden somewhere else, but it is close to home – buried deep in one’s own mind. The answer to the elixir of youth is in taking control of your own life, of doing what you love, of cycling endless amount of kilometers – one pedal push at a time.
Just think how young you will looks after completing the 7EPICS!