To ride the elevator or climb the stairs may not seem like an important decision, but when it’s a decision you make every day it could have lasting implications on not only your physical fitness, but your cognitive function as well.
A new Canadian MRI study from researchers at Concordia University has found that younger-looking brains have two things in common: ongoing education and daily exercise on the stairwell. Scanning the brains of 331 healthy participants ages 19-79, scientists at Concordia’s PERFORM research centre in Montreal found that brain age decreases 0.95 years for every year of education, and 0.58 years for every daily climb up a set of stairs.
The brain’s gray matter naturally decreases with age; the researchers correlate the term “brain age” with remaining volume of gray matter in an individual’s MRI results.
“Every day we’re assessed with the choice of taking the stairs, taking the elevator, taking the escalator,” says professor Jason Steffener, the director of the research. “So it’s something that can be easily added to our daily routine.”