Stronger Leg Muscles Linked to Better Brain Ageing
A fascinating new study has found a link between stronger leg muscles and brain ageing.
It’s the first time a connection has been found between power in the lower limbs and healthy ageing. in normal people.
The study followed 324 identical female twins over a ten-year period. Identical twins are a useful comparison. They share many factors, such as genetics and early life, which we can’t change in adulthood.
Can simple exercise help you remain brain fit?
Increasing levels of simple exercises may lead to healthy cognitive (brain) ageing, the study suggests. Walking or even standing for longer may help.
Fitness and lifestyle habits of the twins were measured by researchers.
They also gave the twins tests of memory, learning and thinking at the start and end of the study.
Stronger leg muscles
Leg power was the best predictor of healthy brain ageing out of all the factors the researchers measured.
In general, the twin which had the stronger leg power at the start of the study, maintained stronger mental abilities ten years later.
The twin with stronger legs also maintained the most amount of grey matter in the brain.
Why are leg muscles so important?
The legs contain the largest muscles in the body. Consequently they are of particular relevance to fitness.
Dr Claire Steves, who led the research said:
“Everyone wants to know how best to keep their brain fit as they age.”
“It’s compelling to see such differences in cognition and brain structure in identical twins, who had different leg power ten years before.”
“It suggests that simple lifestyle changes help to keep us both mentally and physically healthy.”
Increasing leg muscle strength
It is always possible to increase leg muscle strength by increasing physical activity. Further more, physical activity promotes healthy blood circulation. As a result of good blood flow the cells receive oxygen and nutrients. When cells are well nourished they can regenerate. Nourishment is equally important for the brain as for keeping the remainder of the body fit and healthy.
There are many simple exercises for gaining stronger leg muscles. It is not necessary to go the gym or work out with exhausting routines Older people and those with joint and mobility problems can achieve much with gentle walking, Tai Chi, swimming or cycling.
Some leg strengthening exercises can even be done from a sitting position. This is helpful at any age or for any level of fitness. Especially relevant, but just one example, is by using the Aircycle. The simple exercises can be done while watching TV or sitting in the office.
The study was published in the journal Gerontology (Steves et al., 2015).ore.