Physical and Mental Performance (Part 1)

I am a student of all things health and wellness.  One statistic that I came across recently was that 90% of all illnesses can be attributed directly or indirectly to dehydration!  Amazing!  The field of health and wellness fascinates me so when when I read something related, I’m bound to find something interesting.
I came across this next point recently and it blew me away so I thought I should share.  The information originally comes from the Harvard Medical School so allow me to give kudos where kudos are due.  Anyhow, we know there are substantial physical benefits in regular exercise.  That’s a given (well it should be!).  What Harvard did was draw a connection between exercise and staying fit with cognitive function – the mental activities by which we acquire and process information that becomes knowledge.  Let’s call this “mental performance”.  What is one’s mental performance while exercising?  Does mental performance change after an exercise session?  Finally, as one’s fitness level declines, or as one ages, does one’s mental performance decline?
As it turns out, during moderately intense exercise, mental performance improves in several ways:

  • Reaction time
  • Perception and interpretation of visual images
  • Automation of certain skills, sometimes called muscle memory
  • Executive control processes

Of these, exercise exerts the most positive influence on tasks such as:

  • Planning
  • Scheduling
  • Coordination of people, places, events, etc.
  • Working memory – the brain’s ability to temporarily store and manage the information required to carry out complex mental functions.
  • Inhibition – the ability to block out unnecessary distractions

More to come in Part 2…




  • Dave November 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hey Drew! Came across the REALLY old post but it is just as true today as when it was first posted. Heck, it has been true since the dawn of time! There is, always has been and always will be a link between physical performance and mental performance. As the old adage goes, “use it or lose it!” If you exercise at a moderate intensity, it shows in your glow and your mind benefits as well. For me, well, still carrying a “high” after running the NYC Marathon last week, I think that – young or old – exercise is the KEY to lifelong longevity, mental performance, and overall happiness. Defeat the “impossibiles” – get out there and MOVE IT, USE IT, MAKE IT HAPPEN!