Fitness and Brain Function

Being in shape may have more benefits than just looking good. There was a new study that was published recently in The Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology that correlates fitness with better cognitive function.

How did they do it? The investigators took 2,747 participants who were aged 18 to 30 years old in 1985 -1986. They measured their abilities on a treadmill as well as their cognitive ability. Then they did it again 25 years later. What did they find? The participants that were able to run for more than 10 minutes in 1985 exhibited much better cognitive function when tested again 25 years later.

This suggests that the ability to think and remember things strongly correlates with the lifestyle of the individual as a young adult. It seems that cognitive function starts declining much earlier than one would think. As a counter to this, the participants who actually performed better on the treadmill test 25 years later than exhibited better performance on the cognitive test as well. So for those who think that it is too late to start exercising, it’s never too late.

This study did not delve further into why exercise may increase brainpower. However, data from other studies suggest that individuals who are out of shape have poor cholesterol profiles which may lead to plaques in the blood vessels leading to the brain. This would impede blood flow and limit brain function.

Not only is exercising good for your brain, you must also have the right diet as well. Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress which may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries have improved the motor functions and learning capabilities of rats.

Avocados are also very good for brain function and if you love guacamole then you’re in luck! Avocados are monounsaturated fats which is considered “healthy fat”. These promote healthy blood flow. In studies done previously, we know that poor blood flow can lead to poor brain function, so promoting blood flow can only be good for us!

Wild salmon and omega 3s can be great for us as well. Not only can they be good for our skin, but these Omega3s are essential fatty acids which are essential for brain function.

The important thing to remember is to eat a healthy varied diet rich in nutrients. If you have any serious doubts about your current diet you may want to speak with a professional dietician in order to see if any changes to your current dieting plan will be beneficial.

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