Betsy Agnvall is a features editor for health at AARP Media. She's fascinated by research that helps us understand how to live our lives to the fullest - keeping mind and body strong and sharp. She previously worked as a freelance writer for The Washington Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Safety and Health magazine and other publications.

Sex Helps Boost Brainpower

Love might be good for the heart, but it turns out that sex is good for the brain, especially as we age. And, in fact, a healthy sex life seems to benefit men’s and women’s brain’s differently, a new study finds. Researchers at Coventry University in England studied 6,800 men and women 50 and older and found that those who were sexually active scored higher on cognitive tests than those who were not. (Sexual activity included intercourse, masturbation, petting or …

Slow Walking May Be a Sign of Early Alzheimer’s

Good news for speed walkers. Many studies have shown that walking and other exercise helps protect the brain as we age. Now a new study finds that slow walking speed may be a sign of early Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers in France studied 128 people in their 70s who did not have dementia but were considered high risk because they had concerns about their memories. The participants had scans to measure amyloid plaques in their brains. (The buildup of these plaques …

Soaring Prices Put Drugs out of Reach for Many Americans

Retail prices for more than 100 widely used specialty prescription drugs surged by nearly 11 percent in 2013, according to a new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report issued today. The report found that the average annual cost of a specialty medication used to treat chronic diseases and conditions rose to more than $53,000 — greater than the U.S. median income and more than twice the $23,500 median income of people on Medicare. Specialty-prescription-drug prices are 18 times higher than …

These Simple Exercises Could Help Preserve Brain Health

Want a cheap and easy way to improve your brain health? Try lifting weights a couple times a week. A new study adds to evidence that light strength training — also called resistance training — may be key to maintaining a healthy brain. Because of the way strength training pumps blood to the brain, some researchers now think it goes beyond the benefits of aerobic exercise and helps preserve brain health as we age. Teresa Liu-Ambrose and her colleagues at the University of British …

These Foods Linked to Bigger Brains, Better Memory

With the recent news tying processed and red meats to cancer, you may already be cutting back on steak dinners. Here’s even more incentive: Two new studies have found that a Mediterranean-style diet — featuring more fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less meat — may not only help keep your memory strong but also slow age-related brain shrinkage. There’s also good news for those who find it difficult to eat healthy all the time: Both studies found that …

New Survey: Americans Say Brain Health Is Crucial, but Protection Is Challenging

En español | An AARP survey on brain health has found a significant gap between what people believe is good for their brains and what they actually do to preserve their cognitive function. The survey, of more than 1,500 adults over age 40, found that although 98 percent said maintaining and improving brain health was very or somewhat important, only about half are participating in activities — such as exercising, eating a healthy diet and reducing stress — that have been …