We have known for a while now that fit and strong children have better health outcomes later in life.
We also know that regular physical activity in adulthood translates to improved cognition—and might protect against dementia.
But what about those kids who, like me, weren’t particularly athletic or fit until later in life? Do those “better health outcomes” get stripped away?
Well, a new study explored the influence of weight and fitness levels in childhood on cognition in middle age. And I have to say, the findings are a bit striking.
Early fitness levels and weight matter
This study, performed in Australia, followed over 1,200 subjects for over 30 years, starting in 1985 (childhood). The authors explored if early activity levels, fitness, and metabolic health offered protection against dementia in adulthood.
First, the researchers assessed the participants when they were between 7 to 15 years old for fitness (defined by cardiorespiratory, muscular power, and muscular endurance) and anthropometry (waist-to-hip ratio).
Then, participants’ cognitive function was assessed between the ages of 39 to 50. (Processing speed, attention, and global cognitive function were analyzed.)
Ultimately, researchers found that children with the highest fitness levels and lowest waist-to-hip ratios had greater (better) cognitive function in mid-life.
Let me explain why this is such an important finding…
Never too early—or too late—to make healthy choices
Lower cognition in middle age is associated with an increased likelihood of mild cognitive impairment and dementia down the road.
So, even though we’re at a point in our lives where we can’t change our past… we absolutely CAN help shape our grandchildren’s future health outcomes.
Isn’t it great to be able to identify risk factors earlier in life that may protect against cognitive decline later?
This is why I love doing what I do—following new scientific developments and telling you all about them.
Especially when children are involved.
Indeed, ever since I wrote my first book, Feed Your Kids Well, I have been focused on taking care of diseases before they take root. And I lead by example…
I was grossly overweight as a child—back when it wasn’t a common thing. (This study even reminded me of the Presidential Fitness Test back in my day. I dreaded it as I wasn’t particularly athletic.)
But this has morphed into a strong commitment to leading a healthy life at any age.
And giving our younger generation the gift of lifelong health? Well, that should be the goal of everyone.
If you have grandchildren, perhaps you can start cooking healthy meals together… and cheer them on at sporting events.
Of course, as always, I urge YOU to make your health a priority, too. Aim to achieve—and maintain—a healthy weight by following a balanced diet full of fresh, whole food. And move your body regularly to the tune of at least 20 minutes each day.
For more ways to protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and fight dementia, check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. To learn more about this innovating, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
Until next time,
“30-year study links childhood obesity and fitness to midlife cognition.” EurekAlert, 06/16/2022. (eurekalert.org/news-releases/955886)