Physical Activity and Intelligence: A Causal Exploration

Griffith Health Institute and School of Psychology, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.
Journal of Physical Activity and Health (Impact Factor: 1.95). 02/2012; 9(2):218-24.
Source: PubMed


Studies involving animals and older adults suggest that physical activity (PA) might lead to improved cognitive ability in general, and enhanced intelligence scores (IQ) in particular. However, there are few studies involving young persons and none controlling for the possibility that those with better cognitive skills are more likely to engage in PA.
Data are from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy. We measured IQ at the 14-year follow-up and IQ and PA at 21 years. Mean IQ scores are presented at the 21-year follow-up adjusted for IQ at 14 years, and PA and other variables.
Measures of vigorous exercise, less vigorous exercise, walking, and vigorous activity apart from exercise, produced inconsistent results. Increased levels of less vigorous exercise were associated with higher IQ, but neither higher levels of vigorous exercise nor walking were associated with IQ. For vigorous activity at work or in the home, the associations are curvilinear, with more and less activity both associated with lower IQ.
While there is an association between some indicators of PA and IQ, there was no consistent evidence that higher PA levels might lead to increased IQ scores.

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Available from: Jackob M. Najman, Feb 04, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP) and its outcomes began in 1981 with data collected on 7223 pregnant woman-child pairs (6753 mothers, of whom 520 had 2 study children, less 50 who had multiple births). These women, and their children, were initially followed for up to 21 years. Since then there have been additional follow-ups of the mothers (27 years) and their children (30 years). There has also been a substantial increase in the breadth of topics addressed, with the collection of biological samples, the administration of structured clinical assessments of mental health and cognitive capacity, and markers of physical health such as lung function and blood pressure. MUSP was originally developed as a birth cohort study. It has become a longitudinal study of growth, development and ageing with an emphasis on the generational transmission of a wide range of factors impacting on adult health outcomes. We welcome interest in our study; for study background and publications visit [ sci] or contact []. © The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · International Journal of Epidemiology