Staying in school and taking the stairs are two things that can help keep your brain young, new research finds.
The more years of school a person completes, the younger their brain appears.
Brain age decreases almost one year for each additional year of education.
For each flight of stairs climbed daily, brain age decreases by just over half a year.
Dr Jason Steffener, the study’s first author, said:
“There already exist many ‘Take the stairs’ campaigns in office environments and public transportation centres.
This study shows that these campaigns should also be expanded for older adults, so that they can work to keep their brains young.”
The research used brain imaging of 331 adults to reach these conclusions.
They looked at any gray matter loss and their education and exercise levels.
Dr Steffener said:
“This study shows that education and physical activity affect the difference between a physiological prediction of age and chronological age, and that people can actively do something to help their brains stay young.
In comparison to many other forms of physical activity, taking the stairs is something most older adults can and already do at least once a day, unlike vigorous forms of physical activity.
This is encouraging because it demonstrates that a simple thing like climbing stairs has great potential as an intervention tool to promote brain health.”
The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging (Steffener et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Shiny brain image from Shutterstock