Updated: Jan 2, 2020
If people think that being fit and athletic may help them look and feel good, everyone should know that it might also help with better cognitive skills or in layman’s terms “be smarter.”
Doctors have been studying the effects of athletes and their processing skills on and off the field. The reasoning behind it is because they find that athletes are constantly using their brains to process which ways to run or move in a game so that they can score a goal and avoid getting hurt. As a result, a couple of doctors with the American college of Sports Medicine wanted to see if these motor skills worked off the field and in real life situations.
The doctors created two groups to conduct the study; one was a group of athletes and the other a group of everyday citizens who weren’t as athletic. The doctors had both groups take a test by navigating trafficked roads in a virtual world by walking on a treadmill. The test found that the athletes had higher street crossing success compared to non-athletes when it came avoiding collisions with moving vehicles. The athletes also showed faster processing speeds when it came to reaction times.
The study conducted by Laura Chaddock, Mark Neider and a few other doctors came to the conclusion, “that cognitive skills trained in sport may transfer to performance on everyday fast-paced multitasking abilities” (Source)
What the doctors then realized are the more fit and athletic one is, the faster their brains react to high-intensity situations. This proved their theory that being more fit can actually make one smarter because brains can process items and situations faster. This is significant because if people work out more maybe they won’t get injured as often.
And in a 2008 review of cognitive therapies, it concluded that "physical activity, and aerobic exercise, in particular, enhances older adults' cognitive function" but also helped decrease the chances of developing dementia (Source).
So the next time you decide to go out for a run, ride or to the gym remember that you are also using your brain more than those who choose not to work out. It will especially help you avoid an accident when see an oncoming car heading in your direction not paying attention to the road but rather the kids in the backseat.