While there is a lot of research showing the benefit of exercise among older adults, new research now shows that regular physician activity among young adults improves brain function.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Otago, was designed to examined whether regular sustained exercise could boost cognitive ability among students 18-30 years old. The study involved 52 students who took a series of cognitive tests while the researchers measured oxygen availability in the frontal lobe of their brains, as well as their self-reported exercise frequency.

The findings, which were published in the journal Psychophysiology, revealed that both blood supply to the brain and cognitive functioning appear to benefit from regular exercise in young adults. Moreover, the researchers also found that body mass index did not play a significant role in how well the brain functioned. This may suggest that regular activity, rather than actual body weight, may be more important overall.

“This provides compelling evidence that regular exercise, at least 5 days per week, is a way to sharpen our cognitive ability as young adults – challenging the assumption that living a sedentary lifestyle leads to problems only later in life,” said Dr. Liana Machado, senior lecturer at the University of Otago and lead researcher. ““I think the idea that young people do not have to worry about exercising since they are in their prime developmentally is rapidly being overturned by mounting evidence that even the brains of young adults can benefit from regular exercise.”