Everybody knows exercise is important to good health. But researchers have found that keeping one particular body part strong is the key to preventing brain aging. And it’s one you’d never think was related.
British researchers spent 10 years studying 324 twin sisters. Why study twins? It’s because they share similar genes. If they are identical twins, they have the same genes.
By studying twins, scientists can analyze which environmental or lifestyle factors affect the brain.
This means if one twins’ thinking abilities differ substantially from the other’s, it is likely due to lifestyle. Not genes.
Researchers at King’s College London recently discovered that one factor was more powerful than all others in determining which twin would remain mentally strong into old age. It even topped heart health and lifestyle.
And their findings can help you keep your brain strong.
The study found leg strength is the single most important criteria.1
The researchers tracked the health of the more than 150 pairs of twins. They were between 43 and 73 years old when the study began. Not only did the twin with greater leg power sustain cognition better, MRIs showed they had greater whole brain volume, or grey matter. This is a sign of a more active brain.
The scientists measured leg strength with a machine based on the common type of leg press found in gyms. The version they used could measure the maximum pressure exerted by participants.
The subjects who could exert the most force had stronger mental abilities.
Over the course of the 10-year study, they found that those who started with good leg strength tended to keep that strength. Scientists believe this is because their exercise habits maintained their leg power.
Other research also supports the notion that strong legs mean a strong mind.
Another team of scientists recently reported that a single short session of leg resistance training improves long-term memory. Participants were asked to view pictures. Then they either did a set of leg extensions or sat passively on the exercise machine. Two days later the active participants more accurately remembered the photos.2,3
What are the best ways to boost leg strength? Traditional resistance exercises are most effective.
These include leg presses and extensions, calf raises, squats, and lunges. Simply walking or riding a bike can also help keep your legs strong… And your brain sharp. Strive to exercise every day for 30 minutes.4,5,6
In Good Health,
Publisher, INH Health Watch
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