Brain Health and Role of Body Composition & Cardiorespiratory Fitness

A recent study by a research team at the Beckman Institute for Advance Science and Technology examined how body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness are related to neuronal health. The team studied 290 healthy young adults.

This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests fitness has beneficial effects for the health of the brain. The study applied magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure and detect brain metabolites. They focused specifically on N-acetyl aspartic acid (NAA).

NAA is produced in the neurons and is an important biochemical marker of neuronal health and energy production. Prior work has demonstrated that neuronal health as measured by NAA, has positive associations with cognitive performance. The team was interested in exploring whether modifiable life style factors such as aerobic fitness and physical activity are also linked to NAA.

The team showed that a lower percentage of body fat is linked with higher NAA in the white matter and that this relationship largely accounts for the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and NAA.

The findings suggest that adults who are more fit benefit from improved structural brain connectivity. This led to the question raised by the work as to whether a person can modify NAA through fitness interventions and physical activity which could provide an effective method for enhancing cognitive performance and brain health across a person’s lifespan.

To view the original scientific study click below

Body mass and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with altered brain metabolism.