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Posted by Michael McGoldrick, Fri Dec 4 2015 at 1:55 pm

Scientific proof that cross country skiing keeps you smarter.
A recent study by researchers at King’s College London found that found that leg muscle fitness is “strongly associated” with  healthy cognitive aging. In other words, stronger legs muscles means a stronger brain.

Although the study doesn’t deal with cross-country skiing specifically, there can be little doubt that it is one of the best ways of developing leg muscles during the winter.

The study involved 324 healthy female twins (ages  43 to 73) over a 10 year period. The study also controlled for a variety of factors including blood pressure, diet and alcohol habits,  reading IQ, and socioeconomic status. The scientists even conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans on some of the participants.

The end result is that the twin sister with the more powerful legs generally had healthier brains and better cognitive abilities at the end the study period. For example, on average,  the more muscularly powerful twin performed about 18 percent better on memory and other cognitive tests, and had significantly more brain volume than the weaker sister.

Apparently, more experiments will be needed to understand exactly how stronger muscles translate into a stronger brain. However, the lead scientist in the study, Dr. Steves,  speculates that muscles release biochemicals that promote cellular health in the brain.

So there you have it, another reason to go cross-country skiing the minute there’s enough snow on the ground.

An article at King’s College London about muscle/brain fitness study:

The complete leg muscle/brain fitness study that appeared in Gerontology:

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