Lace-up your trainers and get ready to work out – there’s a proven link between physical fitness and better brain structure and functioning

A large new study by German scientists indicates that increasing fitness may lead to improved cognitive ability, such as memory and problem solving, as well as improved structural changes in the brain.

Using 1 206 MRI brain scans from the ‘Human Connectome Project’, they put the volunteers (average age 30) through additional testing.

This included a “two-minute walking test,” where each person was asked to walk as fast as possible for two minutes and the distance was measured. The volunteers then underwent a series of cognitive tests, to measure such things as memory, sharpness, judgement and reasoning.

They found that better performance on a fasttwo-minute walking test in young healthy adults is associated with better cognitive performance, and with the structural integrity of the white matter in the brain: healthy white matter is known to improve the speed and quality of nerve connections in the brain.

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“It surprised us to see that even in a young population cognitive performance decreases as fitness levels drops. We knew how this might be important in an elderly population which does not necessarily have good health, but to see this happening in 30-year-olds is surprising. This leads us to believe that a basic level of fitness seems to [correlate with good] brain health,” says Dr Jonathan Repple, research team leader from the University Hospital Muenster, Germany.

Source: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology via www.sciencedaily.com

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