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Cardiorespiratory Fitness Impacts Later Cognitive Function

Increased fitness linked to better verbal memory, faster psychomotor speed 25 years later

Cardiorespiratory Fitness Impacts Later Cognitive Function

FRIDAY, April 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with better verbal memory and faster psychomotor speed 25 years later, according to a study published online April 2 in Neurology.

Na Zhu, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the correlation between CRF and cognitive function 25 years later. Data were collected from 2,747 black and white participants in the community-based Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, aged 18 to 30 years at recruitment (1985 to 1986). CRF was assessed at years 0 and 20 by symptom-limited maximal treadmill test durations. Verbal memory (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test [RAVLT]), psychomotor speed (Digit Symbol Substitution Test [DSST]), and executive function (Stroop Test) were assessed at year 25.

The researchers found that, after accounting for race, sex, age, education, and clinical center, for each minute of baseline CRF, the RAVLT was 0.12 words recalled higher; DSST was 0.92 digits higher; and Stroop Test score was 0.52 lower (all P < 0.0001). In the highest versus the lowest CRF quartile, each cognitive test was 21 to 34 percent of a standard deviation better. The coefficients for RAVLT and DSST were attenuated slightly with further adjustment for lifestyle and clinical measures, while the coefficient predicting the Stroop Test lost more than half its value (P = 0.07). For a subset of participants who underwent treadmill testing at 20 years, there was a positive association between 20-year change in CRF and DSST only (P < 0.001).

"Better verbal memory and faster psychomotor speed at ages 43 to 55 years were clearly associated with better CRF 25 years earlier," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and nutrition/weight loss industries.

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