Stronger legs linked to stronger brains in older women

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Baku, November 23, AZERTAC

"Strong legs 'help the brain resist the effects of ageing','' the Mail Online reports. A study that tracked 324 female twins (162 sets) over 10 years found an association between leg strength and cognitive ability, measured through memory testing and brain scans.

The study recruited twins aged 43 to 73 in 1999 and measured their physical fitness using a piece of gym equipment, similar to an exercise bike, to measure the power in their thigh muscles. The women also performed memory tests and completed questionnaires on their usual physical activity level, current health, and lifestyle factors.

After 10 years, they completed another set of memory tests. Some of the twins were also given MRI brain scans to check for changes in the structure in the brain associated with cognitive decline.

The study found women with stronger leg extension had less age-related change in brain function and structure 10 years later, after taking into account their age, lifestyle and other risk factors.

While this is an interesting finding, it is not possible to say less physical strength caused the brain to decline or vice versa. Women with a more active brain may have been more likely to take part in physical exercise.

That said, the study is further evidence of the numerous benefits of physical activity, especially in older women, who may experience weakening of the bones as a result of the effects of the menopause.

The study was carried out by researchers from King's College London and was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

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