“A healthy mind in a health body.” It’s a saying that is often tossed around when discussing the link between exercise and brain health. Many studies have shown that exercise can improve cognitive performance. In a new study, researchers asked if body strength could be used to predict brain health.
Hand grip strength has been used in a variety of studies to assess cardiovascular health, mortality rates, general quality of life, and cognition. This research group used grip strength as a metric to assess cognitive performance. The study compared a general population sample set of 475,397 individuals and schizophrenic sample set of 1,162. With such a large sample size, researchers were able to account for confounding variables (gender, age, education, and geographic location) with confidence. They found that grip strength was strongly correlated with visual memory, reaction time, number memory, and prospective memory in the general population. Within the schizophrenic population, grip strength was only closely correlated to visual memory and reaction time.
The results strongly suggest that grip strength is a solid indicator of one’s mental health and could be used to identify problems before other symptoms become noticeable. Additionally, previous studies only examined this correlation in adults above 55 years old. This study examined a larger age group, between 40 and 69, meaning that the grip strength metric could be used to assess all adults, rather than just the elderly. However, this study didn’t address other confounding variables such as recent illnesses, sleep schedule, exercise routines, or smoking, which will likely have a large impact on the results. Future studies are needed to address these additional factors.
Managing Correspondent: Zane Wolf
Image Credit: RecoilWeb.com
Original Article: Grip Strength is Associated with Cognitive Performance in Schizophrenia and the General Population: A UK Biobank Study of 476559 Participants – Schizphrenia Bulletin
Popular Media: Research reveals stronger people have healthier brains – University of Manchester