Science about body and brains

Of major significance for a blog with the outspoken focus, are of course studies of different kinds which treat the interrelationships between physical exercise, particularly strength training, and cognitive functioning. The now largely outdated cliché that body and brains should be separated with the conjunction or, instead of  and, is questioned by a growing number of studies, and newspapers and websites do sometimes summarize the findings, which is the case in for example this Forbes article, as well as this article and this article.

In the last-mentioned report, we can read for instance the following:

Can the same be true for adults of all ages? According to a recent study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress and reported in the Wall Street Journal, it can.

This small study involved overweight, sedentary adults.  They first underwent a series of assessments and then completed twice-weekly exercise sessions.  These sessions involved both cardiovascular exercise (biking) and weight training, lasting for four months.

The fitness gains for the group were clear, with reduced waist circumference and lower body weight.  Researchers reported the more surprising result:  “significantly and clinically” improved functioning on tests of mental acuity.

Like in most science, results are often incomplete, tentative and/or more or less context-dependent, which is particularly the case with correlation studies, especially if the research in question has been executed on rats. Still there are unhesitatingly a growing number of relevant studies which support the argument that physical exercise is good for cognition and even the more specific dimension generally known as cognitive ability.