Aging of the body and the brain – why does one lag behind the other

Here is a post that examines an interesting question about aging: does our body and mind age at the same rate and time at a functional level?

Go over to the site to check out the nice graphs. But basically they show that more many cogntive activities we reach a peak in our early 50’s. Howevere, when the writer explores physical working capacity he provides graphs that we peak in our late 30’s. Really do go over and check the graphs on aging this will make more sense.

For physical working capacity they used half-marathon times for both males and females – and this is probably as good as any measurement. You could argue it should have been more of a strength measurement compared to an endurance event like a half-marathon but probably large data sets can be obtained for running events compared to something like a person’s squat strength.

For mental capacity the graph provided displays several cognitive functions and several of them do appear to peak in the late 40’s or mid 50’s. 

What the author then wonders about is the differene it timing of the decline in ability, with running ability starting to decline by around 37 but mental ability not until 52. A 15 year or so difference. Our body’s physical ability is breaking down quite a few years earlier than our mental function. I thought this was very interesting – and I like what the author summarized it:

“What I wonder, and would be interesting to test, is are the two related at the individual level? As in if we took a sample of people and recorded their work capacity every year or so along with their mental capacity would we see a 15 to 20 year lag between the drop of physical capacity and mental ability?

Obviously, there are going to be individual differences of when physical ability starts to decline, and at what rate. Could we use the physical capacity measurements to predict mental decline, and would it occur at the same rate, just 15-20 years delayed for each individual?

There is evidence suggesting that physical and mental decline are correlated in general, but I will leave that for another post.”




Go out there and keep your mind and body fit.

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