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Skiing Makes You Smarter!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 


In the New York Times health blog was an article that discusses recent studies on the relationship between exercise and mental functioning in young people. This excerpt from Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? by Gretchen Reynolds is good news to all who pursue physical fitness in order to better worship Ullr: 


These findings arrive at an important time. For budgetary and administrative reasons, school boards are curtailing physical education, while on their own, children grow increasingly sluggish. Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that roughly a quarter of children participate in zero physical activity outside of school.

At the same time, evidence accumulates about the positive impact of even small amounts of aerobic activity. Past studies from the University of Illinois found that “just 20 minutes of walking” before a test raised children’s scores, even if the children were otherwise unfit or overweight, says Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology at the university and the senior author of many of the recent studies.

But it’s the neurological impact of sustained aerobic fitness in young people that is especially compelling. A memorable years-long Swedish study published last year found that, among more than a million 18-year-old boys who joined the army, better fitness was correlated with higher I.Q.’s, even among identical twins. The fitter the twin, the higher his I.Q. The fittest of them were also more likely to go on to lucrative careers than the least fit, rendering them less likely, you would hope, to live in their parents’ basements. No correlation was found between muscular strength and I.Q. scores. There’s no evidence that exercise leads to a higher I.Q., but the researchers suspect that aerobic exercise, not strength training, produces specific growth factors and proteins that stimulate the brain, said Georg Kuhn, a professor at the University of Gothenburg and the senior author of the study.

But for now, the takeaway is clear. “More aerobic exercise” for young people, Mr. Kuhn said. Mr. Hillman agreed. So get kids moving, he added, and preferably away from their Wiis. A still-unpublished study from his lab compared the cognitive impact in young people of 20 minutes of running on a treadmill with 20 minutes of playing sports-style video games at a similar intensity. Running improved test scores immediately afterward. Playing video games did not.

I would take exception to the crack about Wiis -- Wii Fitness can deliver a legitimate workout, and the balance games definitely promote better balance. 

post #2 of 16

Didn't the Greeks write something along this line abut 2,500 years ago? 


You could probably do a study based around music or art and find some similar results.  Just imagine what we could have if there was PE music and art classes available in the school systems; oh ya, that would be the past.

post #3 of 16

There's a great book called Spark that talks about this. 


I think it was Spark where they pointed out that since the schools have removed gym in favour of more academia, test scores have gone down.  

And of course obesity is on the rise...Exercise is such a no-brainer,and yet most of our society doesn't do it, and we don't encourage our kids to do it. Maybe the policy makers need to exercise to get smart enough to bring back adequate phys ed in schools.



post #4 of 16

Nah.  Being smarter makes you exercise.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

This article discusses a study showing that lifetime fitness has anti-aging effects at the molecular level:

In the clinical study, researchers analyzed 32 professional runners, average age 20, from the German National Team of Track and Field. Their average running distance was about 73 kilometers (km), a little over 45 miles, per week.

Researchers compared the young professional athletes with middle-aged athletes with a history of continuous endurance exercise since their youth. Their average age was 51 and their average distance was about 80 km, or almost 50 miles, per week.

The two groups were evaluated against untrained athletes who were healthy nonsmokers, but who did not exercise regularly. They were matched for age with the professional athletes.

The fitness level of the athletes was superior to the untrained individuals. The athletes had a slower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and body mass index, and a more favorable cholesterol profile, researchers said.

Long-term exercise training activates telomerase and reduces telomere shortening in human leukocytes. The age-dependent telomere loss was lower in the master athletes who had performed endurance exercising for several decades.

“Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise on the vessel wall and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease,” Laufs said.



The beneficial effects of exercise on the cardiovascular system extends to the brain, this study shows:


There is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, but a new Seattle-area study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that regular exercise can protect the brain -- and even improve cognitive performance -- in older adults showing signs of mental decline. 


It seems so obvious that better cardiovascular health is what makes us smarter, and makes us stay smarter longer (for what's the use of living longer if you have dementia or Alzheimer's?) -- interestingly, the "brain games" like crossword puzzles that some elderly people are urged to do to prevent cognitive decay have been shown to have zero effect. 


From this evidence, I hypothesize that hardcore skiers are among the luckiest people in the world for choosing a sport that not only makes our lives better but enables us to live longer. When anyone gives you a hard time for your skiing habit, share the science with them and maybe help them see the light that shines on all of us!


I have so many friends who don't ski any more. It's sad that they've succumbed to the myth that aging means not skiing, when in actuality,


Skiing means not aging*


*as fast as logging 200 hours of TV each week in your recliner...


photo placement credit to JC-ski

Edited by nolo - 9/19/10 at 10:44am
post #6 of 16

there is a particular benefit from aerobic exercise that requires the participant to continually make decisions on the spot, like mountain biking and skiing, where you are constantly reading  surface, terrain, and obstacles and making  decisions how to handle or use them in your movements. you mostly intuit and think very quickly, from the hip so to speak.


post #7 of 16

Nevermind. Double post.

post #8 of 16

Skiing at higher skill levels (particularly in high consequence terrain) requires your brain to process more information per second than most other activities, and forces accelerated connection between cognitive and motor skills.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Here's some good information for those who want to Age Gracefully and ski better longer.

Indeed, most of the research indicates that longevity hinges on preventing chronic inflammation. Avoiding sugar/fructose while consuming antioxidant-rich whole foods, together with physical exercise and stress reduction, will do just that.

What better physical exercise and stress reducer than getting out into the great outdoors and skiing? As a smart man once said, "When I feel the wind in my face, I know I'm alive."

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Here's another good article for us Aging Boomers by the nutrition writer, Jane Brody. 


You may wonder why I have my filters set to catch these articles. The answer is simple, they keep moving up the seniors ski free age at my home area...

post #11 of 16


Oct 29, 2010


Hi Nolo:


This free skiing age limit, is it like chasing the pot of gold?  Whether we ski to be smarter or we are smart and that is why we ski, I just want to look forward to a long time of skiing, free or otherwise.  Especially on my BRAND NEW Epic Ski.


Think snow,




ps: see you at Stowe!

post #12 of 16

How did the study differentiat the cause from the effect? In other words, does execeise cause high IQ. Or does higher IQ cause more exercise?


As Ghost suggested, it maybe smarter people recognize the benefit of exercise and do it on purpose. Not the other way around?

post #13 of 16

Smarter people tend to earn more and that can lead to a bit more leisure time assuming "we" aren't workaholics.  More leisure time offers more opportunities for healthy activities with our kids that include exercise.  And that cycle and our smart genes get passed down to the next generation..

post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

How did the study differentiat the cause from the effect? In other words, does execeise cause high IQ. Or does higher IQ cause more exercise?


As Ghost suggested, it maybe smarter people recognize the benefit of exercise and do it on purpose. Not the other way around?

They've actually done some more specific studies and it shows that you get smarter with exercise. 


One mice study about exercise and neurogenesis (creation of neurons) found significant increase in neurogenesis in mice who ran vs those who were sedentary. (


Another German study showed that "people learned vocabulary 20% faster after exercise" ( from Spark - the book noted above).  I gave a presentation to a group of executives last week where I noted this and suggested that when they have a really important meeting coming up, they should schedule a workout just before it. This way they can give 120%!



post #15 of 16

But I am not a mouse.

post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by FujativeOCR View Post

But I am not a mouse.

Quite! Not only that:


"people learned vocabulary 20% faster after exercise"


Even though we're both "people", you and I aren't build the same and our reaction to exercise isn't the same either.


A group of "people" doing SOME exercise may have perform better in certain mental activity. A different group doing a different set of exercise may produce a differnt result!


I can clearly feel the uplifting effect of adrenalen well after an hour or two of exercise. I can read faster and remember better as a result. But if I exercise for more than 5 hours, I just got sleepy! I don't remember much of what I try to learn at all!!!


While getting up from my chair often help clear my mind, extending that to spending half an hour in the gym does nothing for me.

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