Physical Fitness Can Promote ‘Youthful’ Brain According to Research

Scientists at the University of Tsukuba in Japan have suggested that physical fitness can have an unexpected influence over brain capacity.

Researchers found that fitter men are able to access areas of the brain that are more associated with youth.

Thus, effectively increasing physical fitness can literally lead to a younger brain.

The study suggested that the left-side of the brain, which typically deals with short-term memory and the meaning of words, is used frequently in our younger years.

By contrast, the right-side of the brain becomes more favoured as we become older.

And scientists conducting the experiment found that fitter men were more able to utilise the youth- like, task-related sector of the brain.

Professor Hideaki Soya, one of the leading scientists in the study, suggested that white matter that connects the two sides of the brain retain better condition if someone is physically fitter.

“One possible explanation suggested by the research is that the volume and integrity of the white matter in the part of brain that links the two sides declines with age,” Soya stated.

The professor continued by commenting that the results of the survey are significant, but also emphasised that corroborative study will be required in order to determine the validity of its outcome.

“There is some evidence to support the theory that fitter adults are able to better maintain this white matter than less fit adults, but further study is needed to confirm this theory,” Soya explained.

A fairly small sample size of men aged between 64 and 75 years were showed a series of coloured cards during the experiment.

In order to confuse the brains of participants, the word of a different colour was written on top. Their ability to say the colour they can see, and not the word they can read, is the Stroop test of brain-function speed.

Participant fitness was also measured by documenting the level of oxygen present in the blood.

It was found that those with superior aerobic fitness consistently had shorter reaction times, leading researchers in the study to suggest that this may reflect more youthful brain structure.

Although the results of the study were certainly interesting, it is also important to note that no women were involved in the experiment, and thus it is not clear whether physical fitness can increase mental agility across both genders.

Typically the ability to complete the Stroop test accurately diminishes with age, but this research suggests that older people can engage in behaviours in order to improve their mental agility.


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