Socially active life aids motor skills

PARTY TIME!: The more active your social life, the better your motor skills.

It is well known that older adults who remain socially engaged are more likely to keep their intellectual skills sharper. But new research suggests they may also be less likely to experience declines in motor skills like strength, speed and dexterity.

Researchers who followed the health of about 900 people in retirement homes and elsewhere found that those who had the most social activity experienced the least decline in their motor skills. The report appears in The Archives of Internal Medicine.  The researchers, led by Dr Aron S Buchman of the Rush University Medical Centre, examined each volunteer over a period of about five years. They gave them a series of tests to assess their motor skills, looking at the strength in their arms and legs and at their ability to walk and perform other tasks. The volunteers were also asked to give information about their social activities. While poor motor skills could make it harder for someone to take part in these activities, Dr Buchman said the study found evidence that it worked both ways.

Drinking age
A new study finds that as the drinking age has gone up, binge drinking has gone down — except among college students.

Writing in The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers said that binge drinking among 18- to 20-year-old men who did not attend college had declined more than 30 percent.  But the rate remained steady — and significant — among male college students. And it went up among female students. For the study, researchers looked at information gathered from 1979 to 2006 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health about binge drinking, which is defined as having five or more drinks. Over all, the researchers, led by Dr. Richard A. Grucza of the Washington University medical school, found that binge drinking had gone down — a change they attributed at least in part to the increased drinking age.

But if that change has made it harder for high school students to get alcohol, it is less the case for college students. Living in close quarters with someone who can legally buy alcohol makes it much more accessible, Grucza said.

Science Times

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