Today we turn to an unusual study that gauged participants’ fitness levels by measuring oxygen levels during strenuous exercise. The results suggest that being in good physical condition may help you to preserve memory and cognition over time.
Physical Fitness and Mental FitnessResearchers asked 1400 adults (ages 19 to 94) to walk, jog, or run on a treadmill until theory were out of breath. The amount of oxygen subjects inhaled and the amount of carbon dioxide they exhaled was carefully measured, allowing scientists to calculate their VO2max (maximal amount of oxygen used by the lungs during one minute of strenuous exercise). A higher VO2max generally indicated better health associated with better lung function.
Participants were tracked for up to 18 years following the treadmill test, and took periodic cognitive tests measuring such factors as memory and attention. Participants with lower VO2max scores showed significantly accelerated cognitive decline (compared with those who started out with better fitness scores).
My Take: Cariovascular fitness measured at a point in time may help predict levels of future memory function. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.
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References: The Journals of Gerontology: Series A (05 November 2013); Massachusetts General Hospital: Mind, Mood & Memory (February 2014)