Want better brain function? Engage in being physical fit

A recent study published in Scientific Reports reveals that the theory of having a fit body goes with having a fit mind. It is the largest study of its kind.

Some recent studies have concluded that physical fitness has its benefits in reducing the risk of demential and relieving depression and more. There is also evidence that cognitive performance is increased with physical activity in healthy people, and in people of different ages as well as in people who had cognitive impairments. And some studies have shown the positive connection between physical fitness and even brain structure.

However in some studies variables were not accounted for which could have played an important role. For instance a person’s mental fitness could be influenced by blood pressure or body mass index (BMI), education status or blood glucose levels not just being physically fit. Also most studies focused on just one marker of mental performance at a time such as memory.

This study’s authors explained that a study that covered all ranges of multiple differential cognitive domains at the same time along with the connection of physical fitness and white brain matter integrity was very rare.

This study was conducted by scientist at the University Hospital Muenster located in Germany using a very large sample of healthy people, They tested and retested the linkage between physical fitness and brain structure, and brain fitness and a whole wide range of mental acuity domains. They also included as many variables as possible that would have an impact on mental fitness. They also wanted to understand how the integrity of the white matter of the brain and a healthy person’s cognitive ability is influenced by physical fitness. White matter relays messages and coordinates communication in the brain.

This study used data from people who were an average age of 28.8 years taken from the Human Connectome Project which included MRI scans of the brain from 1,206 adults of which 1,187 also completed cognitive test. Scientists evaluated the participants reasoning, memory, judgment, sharpness as well as other parameters.

Participants who did the 2 minute walking test performed significantly better in all the cognitive tests except one. Factors for BMI, blood pressure, age, education level, and sex were also taken into consideration and the relationship between being physically fit and mentally fit was still significant. Results also showed that cognitive improvement and physical fitness correlated with the structural integrity of the brain’s white matter.

This lead the scientific team to conclude that a basic level of physical fitness is a preventable risk factor for brain health.