Your physical strength has a lot of impact on your brain. In short, a fit body means a sharper brain. A study conducted by the NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia, reveals that stronger people perform better in brain functioning tests. And muscular strength, measured by handgrip, is an indication of how healthy our brains are, said the study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.
“Our study confirms that people who are stronger do indeed tend to have better functioning brains,” said study co-author Joseph Firth from NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia. For the study, the researchers used data from 4,75,397 participants from all around Britain. The new study showed that on average, stronger people performed better in brain functioning tests that included reaction speed, logical problem solving, and tests of memory.
The impact is not just on the mind. A previous study had shown that hand grip strength is also associated with a healthy heart.
The findings also showed that maximal handgrip was strongly correlated with both visual memory and reaction time in over one thousand people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. “We can see there is a clear connection between muscular strength and brain health,” Firth, who is also an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester in Britain, said. “But really, what we need now, are more studies to test if we can actually make our brains healthier by doing things which make our muscles stronger — such as weight training,” he added.
Previous research by the group has already found that aerobic exercise can improve brain health. “These sort of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions,” Firth said. “Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder — all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning,” he added.
“This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions,” he said.