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Older women with strong legs have strong brains, too

Study of twins age 43-73 over 10 years

by Ken Bowen

female hiker with strong legs, linked to strong brainsJan. 18, 2016 - A gold-standard study from Kings College, London, notably extends the many previous studies linking physical exercise with improved cognitive aging.

The study utilized 324 pairs of healthy female twins (average age at study start was 55 with a range of 43-73), and extended for 10 years, with a subset of identical twins followed up at 12 years.

Since the thigh muscle is the largest muscle in the human body, the power it could develop was taken as a proxy for the overall muscular fitness of the body.

The study found a striking relationship between leg power (representing overall fitness) and both 10-year cognitive change and total grey matter.

The study conclusion reads:

“Leg power predicts both cognitive ageing and global brain structure, despite controlling for common genetics and early life environment shared by twins. Interventions targeted to improve leg power in the long term may help reach a universal goal of healthy cognitive aging.”


Links to three articles about the study, as well as the study itself:

         Fitter legs linked to a ‘fitter’ brain

         Brawn and Brains

         Fitter legs linked to a ‘fitter’ brain [Kings College article]

Original article:
Kicking Back Cognitive Ageing: Leg Power Predicts Cognitive Ageing after Ten Years in Older Female Twins

This post by Ken Bowen originally appeared on his Strong Brain Blog, Jan. 17, 2016.

Related Fitness News from Senior Journal Archives

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Oct. 23, 2015

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