Understanding the role of cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in brain health

June 02, 2020

A new study led by researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology examined how cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition relate to neuronal health in 290 healthy young adults. 

The study "Body mass and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with altered brain metabolism" was published in Metabolic Brain Disease

The study contributes to a growing body of research suggesting that fitness has beneficial effects for brain health. The study applied magnetic resonance spectroscopy to detect and measure brain metabolites, focusing specifically on N-acetyl aspartic acid.

"NAA is produced in the neurons and is an important biochemical marker of energy production and neuronal health" said Aron Barbey, a University of Illinois psychology professor, who led the research with senior research scientist Ryan Larsen. "Our prior work demonstrates that neuronal health, as measured by NAA, has favorable associations with cognitive performance. We were interested in exploring whether modifiable life style factors, such as physical activity and aerobic fitness, are also linked to NAA."

The researchers showed that a lower percentage of body fat is associated with higher NAA in the white matter, and that this relationship largely accounts for the association between NAA and cardiorespiratory fitness.

"Our findings suggest that fitter adults benefit from improved structural brain connectivity," Larsen said. "A central question raised by this work is whether we can modify NAA through physical activity and fitness interventions, providing an effective method to enhance cognitive performance and brain health across the lifespan."

The research team also included U of I psychology professors Charles Hillman and Neal Cohen, Northeastern University postdoctoral fellow Lauren Raine, and Arthur Kramer, Beckman Institute director emeritus and senior vice provost for research and graduate education at Northeastern University.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects supported this research.

 

The study "Body mass and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with altered brain metabolism" can be found at 10.1007/s11011-020-00560-z.

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.