People who keep their fitness level up as a child and adult, through activity three or four times a week, improve their cognitive functioning at 50, a research has claimed.
People perform better in mental tests at the age of 50 if they have engaged in regular intense activity, such as playing sports, running, swimming or working out in the gym, since childhood.
The study conducted by King`s College London found that exercising even one day a week offered major benefits.
More than 9,000 individuals took part in the research from the age of 11.
Interviews were conducted at regular age intervals to monitor levels of exercise. Participants also undertook tests of memory, attention and learning.
Those who had exercised two to three times per month or more from the age of 11 scored higher in the tests than those who had not.
Study leader Dr Alex Dregan, said: “As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these conditions in late adult years.”
The findings are published in the journal Psychological Medicine. Government guidelines say that adults aged 19 to 64 should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.