Exercise Helps Ease Brain Aging

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In study involving female twins, the sibling with the greater leg strength maintained her mental abilities better and had fewer age-related brain changes.
In study involving female twins, the sibling with the greater leg strength maintained her mental abilities better and had fewer age-related brain changes.

HealthDay News — Engaging in physical activity may lead to healthier brain aging, according to research published in Gerontology.

The study included 324 healthy female twins, aged 43 to 73, in the United Kingdom. Their cognition, learning, and memory were tested at the start and end of the study.

The researchers found that leg strength was a significant predictor of brain health. Generally, the twin with more leg strength at the start of the study maintained her mental abilities better and had fewer age-related brain changes than the twin with weaker legs.

"Everyone wants to know how best to keep their brain fit as they age. Identical twins are a useful comparison, as they share many factors, such as genetics and early life, which we can't change in adulthood," lead author Claire Steves, PhD, a senior lecturer in twin research at King's College London, said in a college news release.

"It's compelling to see such differences in cognition and brain structure in identical twins, who had different leg power 10 years before. It suggests that simple lifestyle changes to boost our physical activity may help to keep us both mentally and physically healthy."

Reference

Steves CJ, et al. Kicking Back Cognitive Ageing: Leg Power Predicts Cognitive Ageing after Ten Years in Older Female Twins. Gerontology. 2015; doi:10.1159/000441029.

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