People with higher cardiorespiratory fitness have a better memory, research finds.
The brain is also more active during learning in people who have more heart-lung capacity.
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) essentially refers to how good your heart and lungs are at supplying oxygen to the muscles.
The boost to the brain is beneficial to both 18-year-olds as well as those in their seventh decade.
Dr Scott Hayes, study author, said:
“Importantly, CRF is a modifiable health factor that can be improved through regular engagement in moderate to vigorous sustained physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing.
Therefore, starting an exercise program, regardless of one’s age, can not only contribute to the more obvious physical health factors, but may also contribute to memory performance and brain function.”
For the study, people were given a tricky memory test: trying to learn people’s names.
Those that were fitter did better, whatever their age.
However, heart and lung fitness appeared particularly beneficial to older adults.
Areas of the brain that typically decline with age were given a boost by greater fitness.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Cortex (Hayes et al., 2017).