Emerging research suggests that young adults who run or participate in other cardio fitness activities may preserve their memory and thinking skills in middle age.
“Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author David R. Jacobs, Jr. Ph.D.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking, or cardio fitness classes.”
Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of how well your body transports oxygen to your muscles, and how well your muscles are able to absorb the oxygen during exercise.
For the study, 2,747 healthy people with an average age of 25 underwent treadmill tests the first year of the study and then again 20 years later (when participants were between the ages 43 to 55).
As discussed in the online issue of Neurology®, researchers used cognitive tests to measure verbal memory, psychomotor speed (the relationship between thinking skills and physical movement), and executive function.
Researchers found that prior levels of cardiovascular fitness were correlated with memory improvement and enhanced executive function tasks.
“These changes were significant, and while they may be modest, they were larger than the effect from one year of aging,” Jacobs said.
“Other studies in older individuals have shown that these tests are among the strongest predictors of developing dementia in the future. One study showed that every additional word remembered on the memory test was associated with an 18 percent decrease in the risk of developing dementia after 10 years.”
“These findings are likely to help us earlier identify and consequently prevent or treat those at high risk of developing dementia,” Jacobs said.
Source: American Academy of Neurology