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Exercise May Lead to a Smarter, More Successful You
Date:12/1/2009

Stronger cardiovascular system tied to academic achievement, study finds

TUESDAY, Dec.1 (HealthDay News) -- A strong cardiovascular system in young adulthood may boost brainpower, making for better school grades and more overall success later in life, new research suggests.

Given that most doctors and laypeople know (or should know) the benefits of exercise and its impact on healthy bodies, the authors of a new study, appearing in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are hoping the findings can influence public policy.

Doctors "have known the principal idea for 3,000 years: A healthy mind lives in an healthy body," said study senior author H. Georg Kuhn, professor for regenerative neuroscience at the Center for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "We are aiming at politicians and educators who decide on academic curricula and budgets and how sport fits into the picture of academic success."

The study also found that genetics played a lesser role in explaining the mind-body link than did environment.

"This gets back to empowerment. You can't determine that exercise or eating well isn't going to help you because of your genetic background," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. "This is showing you that, regardless of genes, what you choose to do and how you choose to live can make a difference."

The relationship between physical activity and cognitive function has been studied before, but usually in older adults (in relation to dementia) and in children.

And studies that focused on young adults, as these authors did, have tended to be smaller.

"Young adulthood is the time span in which important behavioral habits and cognitive functions are
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