There’s a lot of research that looks at the impact of physical fitness on the mind, and the largest, most detailed study of its kind has just linked bodily fitness with improved cognitive performance. Published recently in Scientific Reports, the study was conducted by scientists from University Hospital Muenster in Germany. And the results are impressive.
The study’s authors looked at the relationship between physical fitness and white matter microstructure and cognition. These kinds of studies that look at these elements simultaneously are rare, and researchers made a point of accounting for potentially relevant variations that may have affected the findings of previous studies. The study used a large sample of healthy people and data from the Human Connectome Project, which includes 1,206 MRI brain scans from healthy adults average 28 years of age. Participants underwent different tests, with 1,204 completing a walking test. They walked as quickly as they could for two minutes. Of these, 1,187 participants also completed cognitive tests, which assessed memory, sharpness, judgment, reasoning, and other parameters.
The individuals who performed better in the walking test also performed notably better in all but one of the cognitive tests. These findings were found even after researchers controlled for things like BMI, age, sex, blood pressure, and education level. This relationship between higher levels of fitness and cognitive improvement were also associated with improvements in white matter integrity.
That’s surprising when you consider the demographic of the participants. The takeaway, according to the study’s authors, is that a basic level of fitness is a preventable risk factor for brain health.
The study did create new questions, but the fact remains – the link between physical fitness and mental health is strong. It’s just one more reason to stay strong and healthy. If you need help get started, the certified personal trainers at Framework Personal Training in Reno can help. Contact us today.