Climbing the stairs can not only help you stay physically fit but also improve brain health, suggests new research.
“There already exist many ‘Take the stairs’ campaigns in office environments and public transportation centres,” said lead researcher Jason Steffener from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
“This study shows that these campaigns should also be expanded for older adults so that they can work to keep their brains young,” said Steffener.
The researchers found that education also played a positive role in brain health.
The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, showed that the more flights of stairs a person climbs and the more years of school a person completes, the “younger” their brain physically appears.
For the study, Steffener and his co-authors used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to non-invasively examine the brains of 331 healthy adults who ranged in age from 19 to 79.
They measured the volume of grey matter found in participants’ brains because its decline, caused by neural shrinkage and neuronal loss, is a very visible part of the chronological aging process.
Then, they compared brain volume to the participants’ reported number of flights of stairs climbed and years of schooling completed.
Results were clear — the more flights of stairs climbed, and the more years of schooling completed, the younger the brain.
“This is encouraging because it demonstrates that a simple thing like climbing stairs has great potential as an intervention tool to promote brain health,” Steffener said.