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Physical Fitness Spawns Cognitive Fitness

Physical Fitness Spawns Cognitive FitnessNew research finds that being physically fit helps the brain function at the top of its game.

The study, published in the international journal Neurobiology of Aging, suggests physical activity benefits blood flow in the brain, and, as a result, cognitive abilities.

“Being sedentary is now considered a risk factor for stroke and dementia,” says Marc Poulin, a scientist in the Faculties of Medicine and Kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

“This study proves for the first time that people who are fit have better blood flow to their brain. Our findings also show that better blood flow translates into improved cognition.”

The study, Effects of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Cerebral Blood Flow on Cognitive Outcomes in Older Women, compares two groups of women whose average age was 65 years old.

From a random sample of 42 women living in Calgary, the study observed women who took part in regular aerobic activity, and another group of women who were inactive.

Poulin’s team recorded and measured the women’s cardiovascular health, resting brain blood flow and the reserve capacity of blood vessels in the brain, as well as cognitive functions. The team included scientists, doctors and graduate students, with MSc student Allison Brown taking a lead role.

The scientists found that compared to the inactive group, the active group had lower (10 percent) resting and exercising arterial blood pressure, higher (5 percent) vascular responses in the brain during submaximal exercise and when the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood were elevated, and higher (10 percent) cognitive function scores.

One study participant, Calgarian Merceda Schmidt, 91 years old, walks about six kilometres per week to her volunteer schoolteaching and piano-playing commitments.

“It’s just in my nature — the batteries I got when I was born. My legs want to go,” says Schmidt. “I have to admit, I was nervous before the bike test. I could’ve done better if my shoe hadn’t fallen off.”

“The take-home message from our research is that basic fitness — something as simple as getting out for a walk every day – is critical to staying mentally sharp and remaining healthy as we age,” says Poulin, a member of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

Source: University of Calgary

Physical Fitness Spawns Cognitive Fitness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Physical Fitness Spawns Cognitive Fitness. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/01/09/physical-fitness-spawns-cognitive-fitness/3608.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.