A new reason to build muscle: brain health (The Globe and Mail):
… a recent study from researchers at McGill University, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, offers a new reason for continuing to work on building muscle: It’s good for your brain, not just your biceps. Greater muscle mass, the results suggest, helps ward off cognitive decline in older adults beyond what you’d expect based on their exercise levels alone.
The findings are drawn from more than 8,000 older adults in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, with an average age of 73. They underwent a series of baseline assessments that included an X‑ray measurement of their muscle mass, a battery of 10 cognitive tests and questionnaires about their exercise habits and other health characteristics. The cognitive tests were repeated three years later…
Teasing out exactly how muscle helps the brain remains a challenge. There are plenty of indirect links: Those with more muscle are generally more active, which may help maintain the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, for example.
But Dr. Chevalier’s results suggest there may be more direct mechanisms too. One possibility is the role of myokines, a set of hormone-like molecules produced by muscle cells that can travel to the brain and influence mood, learning and other cognitive functions. Greater muscle mass may also help keep blood glucose levels in check, protecting the brain from damage.
Association of Low Muscle Mass With Cognitive Function During a 3‑Year Follow-up Among Adults Aged 65 to 86 Years in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (JAMA Network Open). Key Points:
- Question: Is low muscle mass associated with declines in different cognitive domains over 3 years?
- Findings: In cohort study that included 8279 older adults, the presence of low muscle mass was significantly and independently associated with faster subsequent executive function decline over 3 years.
- Meaning: These findings suggest the potential for clinical screening of older adults to identify those with low muscle mass to assist in risk detection of cognitive impairment development.