John C Kim and International Adoption Video

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fwd: Article: Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood — PNAS

Physical and mental health, educational outcomes probably all linked 

Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood — PNAS

Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood

  1. aCenter for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, Institute for Neuroscience and Physiology;
  2. bDepartment of Primary Health Care,
  3. eOccupational and Environmental Medicine,
  4. hInstitute of Health and Care Sciences, and
  5. iLaboratory of Experimental Endocrinology, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden;
  6. cDepartment of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0152;
  7. Departments of dMedical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and
  8. fPublic Health Sciences, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden; and
  9. gNational Service Administration, SE-651 80 Karlstad, Sweden
  1. Edited by Fred H. Gage, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA, and approved October 16, 2009 (received for review June 23, 2009)


During early adulthood, a phase in which the central nervous system displays considerable plasticity and in which important cognitive traits are shaped, the effects of exercise on cognition remain poorly understood. We performed a cohort study of all Swedish men born in 1950 through 1976 who were enlisted for military service at age 18 (N = 1,221,727). Of these, 268,496 were full-sibling pairs, 3,147 twin pairs, and 1,432 monozygotic twin pairs. Physical fitness and intelligence performance data were collected during conscription examinations and linked with other national databases for information on school achievement, socioeconomic status, and sibship. Relationships between cardiovascular fitness and intelligence at age 18 were evaluated by linear models in the total cohort and in subgroups of full-sibling pairs and twin pairs. Cardiovascular fitness, as measured by ergometer cycling, positively associated with intelligence after adjusting for relevant confounders (regression coefficient b = 0.172; 95% CI, 0.168–0.176). Similar results were obtained within monozygotic twin pairs. In contrast, muscle strength was not associated with cognitive performance. Cross-twin cross-trait analyses showed that the associations were primarily explained by individual specific, non-shared environmental influences (≥80%), whereas heritability explained <15% of covariation. Cardiovascular fitness changes between age 15 and 18 y predicted cognitive performance at 18 y. Cox proportional-hazards models showed that cardiovascular fitness at age 18 y predicted educational achievements later in life. These data substantiate that physical exercise could be an important instrument for public health initiatives to optimize educational achievements, cognitive performance, as well as disease prevention at the society level.


  • 1To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: michael.nilsson{at} or georg.kuhn{at}
  • Author contributions: M.A.I.Å., M.N., and H.G.K. designed research; M.A.I.Å., N.L.P., M.S., and B.B., performed research; M.A.I.Å., N.L.P., K.T., T.J., N.D.A., M.N., and H.G.K. analyzed data; and M.A.I.Å., N.L.P., K.T., M.S., T.J., C.M.C.-K., N.D.A., M.N., and H.G.K. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.


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I am a pediatrician specializing in General Pediatrics, International Adoption Medicine, and in the diagnosis and coaching of families pursuing joy.