Who says that physical exercise is done only to acquire a healthy body? A recent study shows the more stairs a person climbs, the healthier is his brain. The study also revealed that when a person spends more number of years in school, his brain physically appears younger.
Published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging in March 2016, the study found that education and regular climbing of stairs could help the brain stay young, apart from other benefits. The study, led by Jason Steffener of the Concordia University’s Montreal-based PERFORM Centre, found that the age of the brain goes down by 0.95 years for each year of education, and by 0.58 years for the each day use of stairs ( between two consecutive floors) on a regular basis.
Taking stairs better for older adults than vigorous exercise
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers examined the brains of 331 healthy adults in the age group of 19-79 years. The volume of grey matter found in the participants’ brains was measured. Generally, the decline of grey matter in an individual’s brain, which is caused by neural shrinkage and neural loss, is a visible sign of the chronological aging process.
Following this, the researchers compared the brain volume to the participants’ reported years of schooling and number of flight of stairs climbed (FOSC) by them. The researchers found that education and physical activity, such as climbing flights of stairs daily were the two significant predictors of decreased brain age.
The results were very precise – the brain stays younger if one climbs stairs regularly and the more number of years he/she spends in education. The results clearly validated that higher and longer levels of education and daily FOSC are related to larger brain volume, supporting the use of regional gray matter volume as a biomarker of healthy brain aging.
Education and physical activity affects the difference between chronological age and physiological prediction of age. The researchers recommended people to actually indulge in physical activity and spend more time in education to make their brains stay young. The study demonstrated that something as simple as climbing the stairs is a great prospective to promote brain health.
Steffener said, “In comparison to many other forms of physical activity, taking the stairs is something older adults can and already do at least once a day, unlike vigorous forms of physical activity.”
He is of the opinion that campaigns such as “Take the stairs” should also target older adults so that they can take part in physical exercises, as simple as climbing stairs, to keep their brains young and healthy.
Gear up to get a healthy brain
As the study suggests, sometimes it is good to discard the lift to the office or at home and just walk the stairs and eventually make it a habit. In fact, giving a little more interest in education can tickle the brain cells and help keep it healthy. Little efforts like these can go a long way in maintaining a healthy mind and a young brain.
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