New Study Points Out How Fitter Bodies Are Linked To Fitter Brains

A study published earlier this year concluded that light but regular exercise can improve brain health. Another 2014 study by University of British Columbia researchers showed that frequent exercise boosted memory and thinking skills. Moreover, a UCLA research work found that exercise made the growth of new neural connections by the brain easier.

Exercise benefits your cognitive abilities by increasing blood flow, and hence, oxygen provision to the brain. Exercise also encourages the production of neurotrophins. This positively impacts brain plasticity, memory, learning, information processing, and mood. Now a latest study has given further evidence regarding the importance of fitness for brain health.

According to this new study, presented at the ECNP Congress, your fitness levels determine the fitness of your brain. The scientists of this research found that physical fitness shares a link with better brain structure and functioning in young adults. This means fitness can improve problem solving skills as well as memory. Plus, it can improve structural changes in the brain.

The Link Between Physical Fitness And Brain Health

The journal Scientific Reports has also published this new study that says that it’s not only old people, but young adults too should be physically fit for better brain health. Scientists were able to conduct this study on a large scale which translates to more solid results. Though previous studies have found the association between physical fitness and the brain’s working, they have not considered all limiting factors that can affect the outcomes.

For the purpose of this research work, researchers made use of publicly available MRI scans of volunteers. They used about 1206 MRI scans from the Human Connectone Project. The scans belonged to volunteers who were, on average, 30-year-olds. These volunteers also had other tests done. These were:

  • A two-minute waling test in which they walked as fast as they could for two minutes and then the distance they had covered was measured
  • Cognitive tests were carried out that tested the volunteers’ sharpness, judgement, memory, and reasoning

The results showed that better performance in the first test shared a link with improved cognitive performance. It was also associated to the structural integrity of the healthy white matter in the brain which improves the quality and speed of the brain’s nerve connections.

A Word From The Researchers

The team leader of the study, Dr Jonathan Repple said, “The great strength of this work is the size of the database. Normally when you are dealing with MRI work, a sample of 30 is pretty good, but the existence of this large MRI database allowed us to eliminate possibly misleading factors, and strengthened the analysis considerably.” He also added that such a study brings an important question to the fore – can becoming fitter improve brain health?

Key Takeaway

A new study has presented strong evidence that staying fit can improve cognitive health. In this regard, if you want to boost your brain’s skills and health, fitness and regular exercise are key.