One Simple Lifestyle Change That Could Keep Your Brain Young

And it’s free, too.

woman-carrying-laundry-stairs
Photo by Trinette Reed / Getty Images

If you’re like the majority of Americans, developing dementia or Alzheimer’s as you age is a terrifying thought. But according to new research from Concordia University, there might be something simple you can do to help keep your brain healthy. A new study showed that the more flights of stairs participants climbed regularly, the younger their brains acted.

For the study, published in Neurobiology of Aging, researchers used non-invasive MRIs to examine the brains of 331 participants between the ages of 19 and 79. To measure brain health, they looked to the volume of grey matter, a visual marker of neural health in the aging process. They then compared the brain volume to the number of flights of stairs each participant climbed regularly, and how many years they spent in school.

They found that for every daily flight of stairs climbed, the brain had more grey matter—to the equivalency of 0.58 years younger. They also found that for every year of education, the brain appeared 0.95 years younger.

"In comparison to many other forms of physical activity, taking the stairs is something most older adults can and already do at least once a day, unlike vigorous forms of physical activity," Jason Steffener, lead researcher for the study, said in a statement.

Want a healthy body to match your mind as you age? Check out our 7 keys to healthy aging. Not feeling too good about the years ahead? Read how that might be the one mistake that’s aging you.