Brain Weightlifting: More Weight, Less Memory – Connections Between Physical and Brain Fitness

A recent­ly pub­lished study in the jour­nal Neu­rol­o­gy shows that peo­ple who were test­ed cog­ni­tive­ly at age 11 in 1932 and were test­ed again almost 70 years lat­er showed bet­ter cog­ni­tive func­tion if they were in good phys­i­cal shape. “The impor­tant result of the study is that fit­ness con­tributes to bet­ter cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty in old age,” accord­ing to psy­chol­o­gist Ian J. Deary, Ph.D., of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh. “Thus, two peo­ple start­ing out with the same IQ at age 11, the fit­ter per­son at age 79 will, on aver­age, have bet­ter cog­ni­tive function.”

In a sep­a­rate study pub­lished by The Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Neu­rol­o­gy, researchers found the corol­lary that “a high­er BMI was asso­ci­at­ed with low­er cog­ni­tive test scores. Results from a test involv­ing word mem­o­ry recall show peo­ple with a BMI of 20 remem­bered an aver­age of nine out of 16 words, while peo­ple with a BMI of 30 remem­bered an aver­age of sev­en out of 16 words.” They did not, how­ev­er, find a cor­re­la­tion between a change in BMI and a change in cog­ni­tive per­for­mance, accord­ing to epi­demi­ol­o­gist Maxime Cournot, M.D. of Toulouse Uni­ver­si­ty Hospital.

Take-Home Points
Man­ag­ing obe­si­ty in mid­dle-aged adults might help reduce demen­tia lat­er. John Gun­stad, PhD, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­o­gy at Kent State Uni­ver­si­ty in Kent, Ohio says “We’ve known [for many years] that obe­si­ty is linked to high blood pres­sure and oth­er prob­lems. The fact that its impact on brain func­tion may be inde­pen­dent [of oth­er prob­lems] is newer.”

It’s nev­er too late to get your brain or your body in shape.

Phys­i­cal Fit­ness – Brain Fit­ness – Social Fit­ness … they are all inter­con­nect­ed and essen­tial to your gen­er­al wellbeing.


  1. Roly Poly Man on November 8, 2006 at 5:52

    No doubt that car­ry­ing around less flab can help your cir­cu­la­tion, and that helps the blood­flow to your brain!

  2. Alvaro on November 8, 2006 at 5:55

    Hi “Roly Poly Man”,

    You are right. And may also be inter­est­ed in a recent post on phys­i­cal exer­cise and blood flow.



English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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