Researchers at King’s College London have found that muscle fitness, as measured by power in the legs, is strongly associated with an improved rate of ageing in the brain. The findings, published in Gerontology, suggest that simple interventions such as increased levels of walking may have an impact on healthy cognitive ageing.
Scientists studied a sample of 324 healthy female twins from the TwinsUK volunteer registry over a 10-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors. Researchers were therefore able to control for genetic factors affecting changes in cognitive function.
The study is thought to be the first that shows a specific link between power (ie force and speed) in the lower limbs and cognitive change in a normal, healthy population. As the legs contain the largest muscles, they are of particular relevance for muscular fitness and can be exercised easily through various habitual activities such as simply standing or walking.
The study only assessed female participants with an average age at baseline of 55 (range 43–73) and so further studies would be needed to establish whether these findings can be generalised to older or male populations. Please, for further reading visit King’s College London website