For a Sharper Mind in Middle Age, Try Running in Your 20s

Reason #34,857 that exercise is important: getting your pulse up when you're 25 can make for a better brain at 45, according to a newly published study out of the University of Minnesota, the first to examine how exercise in young adulthood affects cognition later in life.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk // CC 2.0

Researchers led by David Jacobs, a professor at the university's School of Public Health examined data collected from 2,700 men and women over 25 years and found that teenagers and young adults who performed better on treadmill tests tended to fare better on memory and problem solving tests in middle age – and that's after accounting for things like smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology.

Jacobs and his colleagues aren't sure what it is about cardiovascular exercise that helps maintain brain function, though they suspect that a healthy heart may be better at delivering blood and oxygen to the brain. Which makes me wonder if Jacobs' team and the folks behind this study – who recently found the hearts of veteran marathon-runners to be in worse shape than their non-marathon-running spouses – should get together and brainstorm on what exactly is going on here.

[Neurology via NPR]