Saturday, December 12, 2009

Follow up to Spark Post - Fit Teenage Boys Are Smarter But Muscle Strength Isn't the Secret, Study Shows

A couple of days ago I mentioned the book Spark that I had ordered, having read about it from Frank Forencich.

Bill De Simone commented on the post and summarised the argument:

the gist of his book is that running, swimming, etc. benefits creativity, concentration, mood, other brain aspects, more so than weight training and stretching, due to the increased blood flow to the brain. He doesn't devalue weight training/yoga/stretching, just draws a distinction between benefits. Increased heart rate alone, such as from blood pooling during weight training, isn't enough; there has to be the steady increased flow.

I just saw this study reported which seems to support that position:

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

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."

UPDATE - Donny passed on the link to th full study

Interesting stuff indeed.

On another, related, tack, I've not been doing much "cardio" (dodgy phrase) recently and felt it yesterday on a hill walk. A section that normally takes me 30 minutes took about 32.....Still the view was worth it!

If I am in the hills like this, I still need some training specific to this.


Bryce said...

What if people who are genetically more intelligent simply tend to have better cardiovascular fitness.

It could be that people who are prone to excellent circulation simply tend to think more clearly and have more endurance, couldn't it?

I haven't read the studies yet, but did they do any testing to show that the 'cardio' improved cognitive function?

p.s. I'm always so jealous of your views, Chris. Awesome stuff.


Chris said...

Bryce - you are right of course- it is back to correlation vs causation.

It was a great view. Doesn't happen often. I've had so many days of rain and cloud with no views at all.

donny said...

Looks like the study's open access.

olddude said...

Training that is transferable to the mountains comes in many forms as you well know.IMO the most bang for the buck is longer sessions with a pack heavier than you usually carry for 1-2 hours over varied terrain.Small hills arent as good as the mountain its self nor is flat ground but I still find(I think)it better than running.Flatter the ground the heavier the pack.I dont know where you live so I guess you run the risk of looking like an idiot cruising downtown with a big pack.

Chris said...

Thanks Donny - I'll put the link in the post

Chris said...

Thanks olddude - I am quite used to looking like an idiot! ;-)

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Chad said...

Here in the States, school systems have used the information to incorporate exercise into classrooms, with amazing results in testing, behavior, etc. Of course, nothing but common sense (if you're tired from exercise, you don't cause as much disruption in class). But the science behind the hormone and chemical flow from the brain due to exercise pertaining to learning is fascinating.

Nice views!!

Mike T Nelson said...

The effects of the brain on exercise and exercise upon the brain is so fascinating!

Thanks for posting!
rock on
Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
Extreme Human Performance

Methuselah said...

Great photo. I am missing the mountains...