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Exercise improves exam results, a cure for baldness on its way and why elderly people should put down their puzzles

A story that is everywhere this morning is that intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers. The BBC reports the Scottish study of 5,000 children, which found an increase in performance for every 17 minutes boys exercised and 12 minutes for girls. Exercise particularly boosted girls’ performance at science.

Not entirely surprisingly, the researchers at Strathclyde and Dundee found that the majority of teenagers’ physical activity was well below the recommended 60 minutes a day.

In a second piece of news to cheer up Wayne Rooney today (although we’re not entirely sure how much effect exercise had on his school results), the BBC reports that scientists are a step closer to banishing baldness. A joint US and UK team was able to create new hairs from tissue samples. More research is needed, but the group said its technique had the ‘potential to transform’ the treatment of hair loss.

Author Professor Colin Jahoda, from Durham University, told the BBC: ‘It’s closer, but it’s still some way away because in terms of what people want cosmetically they’re looking for re-growth of hair that’s the same shape, the same size, as long as before, the same angle. Some of these are almost engineering solutions. Yeah I think it [baldness] will eventually be treatable, absolutely.’

And finally, put those puzzles away and pick up a camera instead – a new study had revealed that doing crosswords is not enough for over 60s to stay sharp, the Telegraph reports. Instead, elderly folk should learn something new – like digital photography or (somewhat bizarrely) quilting, to improve their long term memories.

The study, published in Psychological Science, involved 221 people aged 60 to 90 years who were split into groups to learn digital photography, quilting or both for 15 hours a week over three months. Others listened to classical music and completed crosswords or were put into groups that did social activities.

It concluded the elderly people needed ‘continuous and prolonged mental challenge’ rather than doing easier activities such as crosswords or listening to music at home, to keep their minds sharp.


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