Researchers have long noticed that exercise can benefit people with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system in which brain cell death results in loss of motor control. Strenuous cycling in particular seems especially beneficial.
Recent research has shown that endurance athletes suffer cardiac fibrosis — scarring in the heart muscle. When scientists look at heart tissue from marathon runners, rowers and Ironman competitors, they often find signs of fibrosis, while sedentary subjects usually have no fibrosis at all. In non-athletes, fibrosis is an indicator for arythmias, but medical researchers don’t know how how this heart muscle fibrosis effects the longevity of endurance athletes.