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Fitness, Childhood IQ Linked to Cognitive Function in Old Age

Physically fit older adults have improved cognitive abilities

TUESDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Physical fitness levels and childhood intelligence contribute to better cognitive function in old age, according to a report in the Oct. 10 issue of Neurology.

Ian J. Deary, Ph.D., of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found that 79-year-olds who performed well on grip strength, six-meter walk time and forced expiratory volume from the lungs in 1 second (FEV1) tests had better cognitive function than their counterparts who did not do as well on these measures of physical fitness. Moreover, participants who did better on a standard cognitive test at age 11 were also more likely to show greater cognitive ability when they re-took this test at age 79.

Physical fitness contributed 3.3 percent of the difference in participants' cognitive ability as adults after controlling for scores on the standard cognitive test they took at age 11. Childhood intelligence quotient was related to FEV1 at age 79, but not the other two fitness indicators, the researchers found. The new findings only apply to models of healthy cognitive aging.

"Intervention studies aimed at making older people fitter are good candidates to improve cognitive aging," the authors conclude.

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