Being active in your 20s help your brain function better as you get older, according to new research from the University of Minnesota School of Rural and Public Health. The scientists recently reported their findings from data collected about 3,000 participants over 25 years in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study.
Young people who performed better on physical fitness tests also did better on critical thinking problems when they reached middle age.
As you’d expect, they found that participants who exercised throughout their lives were less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, and the risk for type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. More surprising, the data indicates that young people who performed better on physical fitness tests also did better on critical thinking problems when they reached middle age, in comparison to their less fit peers. The boost in performance amounted to a 14% increase in memory skills and a 4-second jump on the time needed to complete the Stroop Effect Test. (If you don’t know this common test, it’s a fun challenge you can try here.
So is it too late for you if your 20s were in another decade (or millennium)? Definitely not! The report indicates that cardiovascular exercise enhances brain function to some degree in middle age, no matter when you start.
If you want to read the full research report, go to the American Academy of Neurology.