Does physical activity throughout adolescence promote brain health in young adulthood?

Physical activity may have beneficial effects on physical, mental and cognitive health. In this study, the investigators examined data from youth, at ages 11 and 15, to determine the influence of their physical activity on cognitive performance at a later time point, when they reached young adulthood (18 years old). More than 3200 participants took part in this research.

The study showed that being physically active throughout adolescence did influence cognitive performance at age 18. The results also indicated that intermediate amounts of physical activity may have the greatest benefit on cognitive performance, whereas high volumes of physical activity might impair cognitive performance!

In this sense, adolescents who are regularly active for a moderate amount of time and specifically maintain that level of physical activity, tend to show higher cognitive performance. Overall, the earlier in youth that these individuals began to engage in moderate levels of physical activity, the greater improvement on cognitive performance before adulthood. However, longitudinal studies and well-designed randomized controlled trials in children and adolescents are needed to provide further insights. View the abstract