More muscle strength is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, according to a study published in the Archives of Neurology (2009; 66 [11], 1139–44). Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, studied more than 900 residents of retirement communities in the Chicago area who had no dementia at the beginning of the study. The scientists measured strength in nine muscle groups and then compared results with strength measurements and cognitive function approximately 31/2 years later.

Investigators found that increased muscle strength was associated with a slower rate of decline in global cognitive function. “These findings support the link between physical health and cognition in aging and the importance of maintaining good physical function and strength,” lead study author, Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, told Reuters Health. “The most likely explanation for the mental function–muscle strength link is that there is something going on in the body that causes both muscle weakness and loss of mental ability.”