Older people getting smarter but less fit
London - Older people are now cleverer than ever before, scientists have found.
But while today’s over-50s may be the brightest in history, their health is getting worse, according to studies.
Researchers believe an increase in the use of technology, more intellectually demanding jobs and more years of education have kept older brains sharper.
However less physically demanding jobs and lazier lifestyles are also making our muscles wither and waistlines grow flabbier as we age.
In two separate studies on Britons and Germans aged between 50 and 90, researchers carried out a test of participants’ cognitive and perceptual functioning in 2006 and again in 2012.
They found that cognitive test scores increased significantly within the six year period for men and women of all ages.
Valeria Bordone, of the Austrian-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), which conducted both studies, said: “On average, test scores of people aged 50-plus today correspond to test scores from people four to eight years younger and tested six years earlier.” Previous studies have also shown that IQ increases with age.
The German study, published in the journal PLOS One, also assessed participants’ physical health with a questionnaire that looked at areas including bodily pain, general health perceptions, energy and vitality. It found physical functioning and mental health declined over the six years across all ages, although men were more adversely effected than women. The steepest decline was seen between the ages of 50 and 64, especially for with men who had lower levels of education.
Nadia Steiber, of IIASA, said modern lifestyles are boosting brains but weakening bodies, adding: “We think that these divergent results can be explained by changing lifestyles.
“Life has become cognitively more demanding, with increasing use of communication and information technology also by older people, and people working longer in intellectually demanding jobs. At the same time, we are seeing a decline in physical activity and rising obesity.”Daily Mail