BreakThru News, Ep. 11: Fitter Youth for Smarter Age


By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein

The importance of physical fitness is easy to recognize for health benefits that reach far beyond merely staying in shape. More surprising perhaps is the recent discovery that being active now will improve your mental agility in 25 years. The recent CARDIA study compared the fitness levels of thousands of young adults from the mid ‘80s with their aerobic abilities 25 years on, and then tested their middle-aged cognitive skills. The results were striking: not only were the fitter young adults sharper late in life, but every extra minute that they could run on a treadmill corresponded neatly to one less year of mental aging.

The link between physical health and mental ability is not new, but only gradually gaining appreciation. Studies have shown that taking a walk, even if that walk is on a treadmill and facing a blank wall, will immediately improve creative thinking. A moderate degree of fitness now seems essential on almost all accounts of health. The question becomes, what does ‘moderate’ mean?

Given that 67 percent of people with gym memberships never actually use them, are we falling far short of necessary health goals? The picture might not be so bleak. This week, BTN spoke to Gretchen Reynolds, health and fitness writer for The New York Times, about the CARDIA results and what some reasonable fitness regimes might look like. It turns out that walking might be enough, ‘heavy gardening’ might count as muscle strengthening exercise, and we might even adopt a new alternative mindset to the ‘workout’ altogether with the emerging idea of ‘exercise snacking.’

Video Credits
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
Research – Arielle Dachille
Copy Editor – Dane Feldman