Friday, April 12, 2024
Shared lifestyle factors: exercise, nutrition, and stress management.

Shared lifestyle factors: exercise, nutrition, and stress management.

If Life Were a Video Game

If life were a video game and you could choose your player, you’d probably want to select a SuperAger, or someone set to live 80-plus years with the mental acuteness of someone decades younger.

Improving Chances of Super-Aging

In the real world, we don’t get to choose an avatar, but new research suggests that we may be able to improve our chances of super-aging with a few key behaviors. A July study published in The Lancet indicates that advanced agers share three significant things in common regarding movement, sleep, and mental health.

Gray Matter and Memory

Past research has shown that SuperAgers have more gray matter, essential tissue that aids in daily functions, in their brains. For this study, researchers chose 55 cognitively healthy participants aged 79 years or older, plus 64 SuperAgers (including 38 women and 26 men over 81 years of age) based on their scores on the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test, a memory test that evaluates learning abilities.

“The study compared SuperAgers with typical folks, both in their 80s, in order to understand which differences in lifestyle, clinical factors, and brain structure exist between them,” says Diogo Barardo, PhD, from Novos, a longevity solutions company. “This can be a starting point to explore if any, or a combination of these differences, is ‘causal’ in the future. That is, if these factors are the source of the SuperAgers’ superpower of having almost no memory decline.”

The AI Model

Scientists employed an artificial intelligence (AI) model to distinguish between SuperAgers and typical older adults. Ultimately, researchers discovered a correlation, or a scientific connection, between SuperAgers and three of the 89 demographic, lifestyle, and clinical predictors scraped by the AI.

Factors Influencing Super-Aging

First, SuperAgers displayed faster movement speed. “There was no difference in the amount of exercise, but there could be a difference in the amount/intensity of physical activities not identified by subjects as exercise per se, such as climbing stairs and gardening, that is contributing to the difference in movement speed,” says Trinna Cuellar, PhD, head of research and development and vice president of biology at Tally Health. SuperAgers were also seen to have better mental health, and didn’t complain as often about sleep (even though there was no markable difference in actual sleep duration between SuperAgers and typical folks).

Interesting Findings

However, what this study didn’t find is just as interesting, according to Dr. Barardo. “There was no gender or genetic difference between the groups,” he says. The AI model also defied earlier research that has showed that those with life partners are likely to live longer. “At least in this cohort, SuperAgers were more likely to be separated and divorced than typical old adults,” says Dr. Barardo.

Of course, like all scientific research, this study had its limitations. “This study is focused on associations, factors more or less common among people with better or worse memory, but we can’t say if or how every factor associated with memory also biologically improves memory,” says Dr. Cuellar. “It could be a coincidence or causality in the opposite direction, with memory actually influencing those factors. For example, does maintaining high movement speed somehow support gray matter maintenance, or does better brain health help you move more quickly?” The authors also acknowledged that their AI model for this

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