Latest News » Study shows link between leg power and brain health

A new study found that more leg power could improve the effects of aging on the brain.

While research in the past has explored links between physical activity and brain health, new research has discovered how specific areas of the body can improve or impact the effects of aging on our brains. Researchers at King's College London have found a correlation between muscle strength and speed in the legs, or "power," and how it can improve brain function as we age.

The study, published in the journal Gerontology, found that adding more exercises to a routine that specifically target the legs, such as walking, can improve deteriorating brain function due to aging. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and measured the health and lifestyle predictors of 324 healthy female twins with an average age of 55 over a 10-year period, starting in 1999.

The King's College researchers measured thinking, learning and memory at the beginning and end of the study and found that leg power was the best measurement of cognitive change than any of the other tested factors. Generally, the results showed that the twin who had more leg power maintained better cognitive function by the end of the study, exhibiting fewer effects of aging on her brain.

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

The new study is the first to find a link between lower limb power and cognitive health, but further research is still needed to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between these kinds of exercises and the cognitive changes caused by aging as well as how leg power affects brain aging in older male populations.

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