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Study Finds Link Between Exercising Young, Improved Brain Health Later

Date: April 4, 2014 Category: Uncategorized

On its website, CBS News (4/2, Firger) reports that a new study published in the journal Neurology found that regular “rigorous physical activity” by young people could improve mental fitness later in life. According to the article, the study examined levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in 2,747 young adults between 18 and 30 years old with two treadmill tests 20 years apart. Researchers found a link between the time a person could stay on a treadmill and the number of correctly-recalled words on a memory test. In the follow-up, participants who could remain on the treadmill longer “also tended to score higher on the memory test,” with better performance in psychomotor speed and executive functioning.

Reuters (4/3, Doyle) reports in its coverage that those in better shape when the study began were more likely to possess higher education, healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, be more active, and smoke less. During the memory test, researchers found that for each additional minute a subject spent on a treadmill during the initial test, that individual correctly recalled .12 more words, and performed better on trick question and reactions speed tests. The study’s author, David R. Jacobs, said that it is possible that more exercise when younger simply reduces blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for dementia and cognitive decline.

TIME (4/2, Sifferlin) notes that “In some of the tests, an additional word recalled is associated with a 18% lower risk of developing dementia in 10 years, according to the authors.”

The Huffington Post (4/2, Chan) quotes Jacobs as saying, “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.”

BBC News (4/2, Briggs) and WBUR-FM Boston (4/3) also provide coverage on their websites.

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