Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fit teenage boys are smarter -- but muscle strength isn't the secret, study shows

Date:
December 11, 2009
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
In the first study to demonstrate a clear positive association between adolescent fitness and adult cognitive performance, researchers find that better aerobic health among teenage boys correlates to higher scores on a range of intelligence tests -- and more education and income later in life.

In the first study to demonstrate a clear positive association between adolescent fitness and adult cognitive performance, Nancy Pedersen of the University of Southern California and colleagues in Sweden find that better cardiovascular health among teenage boys correlates to higher scores on a range of intelligence tests -- and more education and income later in life.

"During early adolescence and adulthood, the central nervous system displays considerable plasticity," said Pedersen, research professor of psychology at the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. "Yet, the effect of exercise on cognition remains poorly understood."

Pedersen, lead author Maria Εberg of the University of Gothenburg and the research team looked at data for all 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 who enlisted for mandatory military service at the age of 18.

In every measure of cognitive functioning they analyzed -- from verbal ability to logical performance to geometric perception to mechanical skills -- average test scores increased according to aerobic fitness.

However, scores on intelligence tests did not increase along with muscle strength, the researchers found.

"Positive associations with intelligence scores were restricted to cardiovascular fitness, not muscular strength," Pedersen explained, "supporting the notion that aerobic exercise improved cognition through the circulatory system influencing brain plasticity."

The results of the study -- in the current issue of PNAS Early Edition -- also show the importance of getting healthier between the ages of 15 and 18 while the brain is still changing.

Boys who improved their cardiovascular health between ages 15 to 18 exhibited significantly greater intelligence scores than those who became less healthy over the same time period. Over a longer term, boys who were most fit at the age of 18 were more likely to go to college than their less fit counterparts.

"Direct causality cannot be established. However, the fact that we demonstrated associations between cognition and cardiovascular fitness but not muscle strength . . . and the longitudinal prediction by cardiovascular fitness on subsequent academic achievement, speak in favor of a cardiovascular effect on brain function," Pedersen said.

In their sample, the researchers looked at 260,000 full-sibling pairs, 3,000 sets of twins, and more than 1,400 sets of identical twins. Having relatives enabled the research team to evaluate whether the results might reflect shared family environments or genetic influences.

Even among identical twin pairs, the link between cardiovascular health and intelligence remained strong, according to the study. Thus, the results are not a reflection of genetic influences on cardiovascular health and intelligence. Rather, the twin results give further support to the likelihood that there is indeed a causal relationship, Pedersen explained.

"The results provide scientific support for educational policies to maintain or increase physical education in school curricula," Pedersen said. "Physical exercise should be an important instrument for public health initiatives to optimize cognitive performance, as well as disease prevention at the society level."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Fit teenage boys are smarter -- but muscle strength isn't the secret, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091207143351.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2009, December 11). Fit teenage boys are smarter -- but muscle strength isn't the secret, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091207143351.htm
University of Southern California. "Fit teenage boys are smarter -- but muscle strength isn't the secret, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091207143351.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) — A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) — Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins