Stand Up for Strong Legs and Greater Brain Power
10 Year Twins Study Shows Leg Power Predicts Reduced Cognitive Decline
Remember Jack Lelane and Richard Simons? Those exercise enthusiasts had us all squatting and kicking to maintain our physical well-being. Now long-term studies of twins have shown that strong legs are associated with lower cognitive decline.
This fall (2015) the National Institute of Health reported that a 10 year study of twins showed that the strength of the thighs (a large muscle group in the body) predicts both cognitive aging and global brain structure (total grey matter).
So walking is good, but strengthening your legs should be added to your routine. Do strengthening exercises at least two or three times a week. The study states that interventions to “improve leg power in the long term may help reach a universal goal of healthy aging.”
The good news is, it is never too late to gain muscle strength. You just have to do some movements that are hard at first. It is hard at first because you stress the muscle and it grows to meet the demand.
TWO SIMPLE LEG EXERCISES
- Get up out of your chair and sit back down slowly. Work yourself up to 10 times in a row, 2 times a day. You may have to use your hands at first, but if you keep doing the exercise, no matter what your age, you can improve your ability and strength.
- As you get stronger, try to hover over your chair, and not sit down. Stick your back side way out, so that your knees stay over your feet as you squat down. Sometimes it helps to put your arms straight out in front of you to balance.
IF YOU CAN’T RISE OUT OF A CHAIR…
- Straighten one leg and tighten the muscles in the thigh and hold for a count of two. Release slowly to the ground, very slowly. Try to count slowly to 10 as you lower the leg. You may not be able to do it at first, but keep trying, your muscle will grow and it will be easier. Repeat with the other leg. Work up to 15 times or more each side. When it gets easy, do more.
- Push your right leg into the floor while lifting the knee of the left leg so the thigh comes off the chair. Try to hold for a count of two and slowly release. Repeat with the Left leg pushing down and the right leg lifting up. Work up to 15 times each side. When it gets easy, do more to build muscle.
Remember, leg strength is related to maintaining cognitive function as you age. So stand up.. sit down! Stand up! Sit down! Kick kick kick…