Weird finding: strong legs indicate a strong brain
May 16th, 2016 by NHI
How Strong Legs Equal a Strong Brain
For years, scientists have been searching for minimally invasive, inexpensive ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s as early as possible.
If the onset of the disease could be seen several years ahead of really bad symptoms, patients would have enough time to make changes that can slow or even prevent the disease.
A string of new studies points toward a new, simple test that indicates whether Alzheimer’s or other dementia is just around the corner …
And if scientists can confirm their findings and create a protocol, it may offer older adults a new way to kick Alzheimer’s to the curb. (Literally!)
A Personal Message from Lee Euler
You Take an Eye Supplement …
Read on for the surprising reasons why …
When you hit a certain age, it’s almost like someone flips on a self-destruct switch in your eyes.
Suddenly, reading anything up close – like your favorite books or ingredient labels – becomes difficult (if not impossible).
As for driving at night… forget about it!
The blinding glare of oncoming headlights can make navigating the roads at night a frustrating (and at times, even hair-raising) experience.
But here’s what’s really bothering you…
The eye supplement you’ve been taking – the one that was supposed to give you back your sharp 20/20 vision?
It doesn’t seem to be working at all.
If you’ve tried everything, but your eyes are still sore and tired at the end of the day … it’s still hard to focus … and the bright lights and glare still make driving a nightmare …
You need to Click here to learn the whole story on why nothing you do, try, or take seems to fix things …
And how 3 missing ingredients may be the key to solving age-related vision problems once and for all!
Click here to discover why nearly ALL vision supplements are missing the mark …
Walking Away from Alzheimer’s Disease
As a regular Natural Health Insiders reader, you know beta-amyloid plaques are sticky proteins that adhere to and eventually kill neurons, triggering Alzheimer’s disease.
But did you know your walking speed could indicate the presence of plaques in your brain?
In a study published in the journal Neurology, lead researcher Natalia del Campo and her colleagues investigated the relationship between beta-amyloid plaques and gait speed in elderly people at high risk for dementia.
The researchers measured how fast their 128 elderly participants could walk and used PET scans to measure plaque levels in the brain.
They discovered a distinct correlation between slow gait and a buildup of beta-amyloid plaques.
Even though it seems like a simple task, successfully walking actually uses multiple complex systems in your brain. It’s not so surprising that the scientists found slow walking speed—or a change in a person’s walking speed from their previous habits—indeed indicated brain abnormalities.
The researchers found specific regions of the brain used to walk were particularly affected by plaques,1 including:
- the posterior and anterior putamen, responsible for controlling numerous types of motor skills;
- the occipital cortex, which controls visual understanding and spatial functioning;
- the precuneus, associated with self-awareness and consciousness, and both episodic and source memory;
- and the anterior cingulate, which plays a crucial role in initiation, motivation and goal-directed behaviors.
The buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in these regions accounted for up to nine percent of the variance of gait speed.
However, while there appears to be a correlation between plaques, gait speed and risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers admit they’re not certain of the cause-effect relationship.
“It is possible that amyloid accumulation and slow gait speed co-occur as the result of a common lifestyle factor such as a deficient diet… low physical activity or smoking,” Dr. del Campo said.
Also, when areas of the brain go unused for a long time, they begin to weaken, so it’s possible a sedentary lifestyle characterized by very little walking or lack of vigorous leg muscle use could lead to both muscle atrophy and brain weakening as well.
In other words, it seems your brain forgets how to “talk” to your legs if you don’t use them regularly.
More research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society confirms this.
In a study of “very old adults,” scientists discovered they could predict whether a participant would suffer an accidental fall by measuring cognitive ability.
The researchers compared their participants’ cognitive functioning with self-reported falls. They discovered a direct relationship between decreased verbal ability, processing speed, and immediate memory and increased rates of falling and fall risks.2
Strong Legs, Strong Brain
Researchers at Kings College London tested the theory that muscle fitness, as measured by leg power, could predict rates of cognitive decline over time.
In a fascinating 10-year study, they observed 324 healthy twin females between the ages of 43 and 73.
The results, published in the journal Gerontology in 2015, showed a striking correlation between leg power and the brain.
After controlling for genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors, the researchers found the twin with more leg power retained higher cognitive functioning, as well as retaining more overall grey matter as the years went by (loss of brain tissue is a “normal” part of aging, but, as this study indicates, there a number of things you can do about it).3
According to lead researcher Dr. Claire Steves, “When it came to cognitive aging, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study.”
The “Use It or Lose It” Adage
Proves True Again
When you combine these new discoveries with the fact that exercise is one of the few things proven without doubt to delay dementia, it seems safe to conclude that strong legs specifically will help keep your brain firing on all cylinders.
Keeping your legs and mind strong is as easy as taking the stairs, walking a few blocks to the store, or walking on a treadmill a few times a week. Many experts recommend walking at least 30 minutes a day, for both reducing stress (another cause of Alzheimer’s) and increasing strength.
If you’re feeling sprightly, begin an exercise regimen that includes squats, lunges, calf raises and step-ups (using bodyweight or light weights). Start at your personal fitness level to ensure your leg muscles — and your brain “muscle” — all stay strong and healthy for years to come.