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That dumb jock might be smarter than he looks

December 18, 2009 |  6:10 pm

For young men, the fitter you are, the better your brain works.

A  study recently published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences took advantage of data collected on 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976, and found that those in better shape displayed higher intelligence. Note that the findings were based on cardiovascular health, which led to better blood flow, less anxiety and less fatigue. All of these things could help to raise brain power. Muscle mass had nothing to do with it.

The study also looked at 3,000 young men who were twins (1,432 of them identical twins) – and using these data were able to determine that four-fifths of smarts was due to environmental factors and only 15% could be chalked up to genetics.

Bottom line? Can’t blame your bad math grades on your parents’ genes. Here’s some helpful information from the Mayo Clinic on aerobic exercise and its benefits.

-- Amina Khan
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Comments (3)

Hm...I wonder what environmental factors led me to have such a difficult time with math. I was so terrible in calculus this semester!

I agree a person who has better blood flow would be able to think more clearly. I disagree with their viewpoint that intelligence is only 15% genetic. The Bell Curve (1994) and other studies found that genetics were 60% responsible for how smart you were. As a teacher of gifted students for over 20 years, I have taught lots of siblings, including twins. Although they may possess different strengths and weaknesses from their siblings, their general intelligence is similar.

I agree that cardiovascular health is a major factor in one's well-being. But I also feel that total health includes some form of weight-training. Not to get into specifics, but there are many points to be made about combining the two...anything that gives you better physical health leads to better mental health.


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