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Study: Climbing stairs improves brain health

Canadian researchers used MRIs to research the effects of climbing stairs and education on brain health. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

WASHINGTON — You know it’s good for your heart and legs, but a new study shows climbing the stairs is also good for your brain. So is staying in school.

Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada used magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 331 healthy adults between the ages of 19 and 79.

The MRIs measured the volume of gray matter in the brain, which declines as part of the aging process. They then compared the brain volume with the participants’ reported number of stairs climbed and years of education attained.

Those who climbed and studied the most had the least deterioration — their brains appeared physically younger. Their brain age dropped by about a year for each year of education, and a little more than half a year for every flight of stairs climbed on a daily basis.

The researchers say the results show that an activity as simple as climbing stairs can have a significant impact on brain health. And they note this is something many older adults can do to keep their brains young.

The findings were published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

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