New research has revealed a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance.
The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, noted the researchers from University of Copenhagen.
“Our study clearly shows that the higher intelligence score in early adulthood, the stronger the participants’ back, legs and hands are in midlife. Their balance is also better,” said PhD student Rikke Hodal Meincke from the centre for healthy aging and the department of public health.
For the study, the scientists employed several tests like handgrip strength, balance and chair-rise when measuring physical performance.
“Former studies have taught us that the better the results of these midlife tests, the greater the chance of avoiding a decrease in physical performance in old age,” Meincke added.
The study comprised 2,848 Danish males born in 1953 and in 1959-61 and the results were published in the scientific Journal of Aging and Health.
With a 10-point increase in intelligence score, the results revealed a 0,5 kg increase in lower back force, one cm increase in jumping height an expression of leg muscle power, 0.7 kg increase in hand-grip strength, 3.7 per cent improved balance and 1.1 more chair-rises in 30 seconds.
A feasible explanation for this connection could be that people with a higher intelligence score find it easier to understand and interpret health information and thus have a healthier lifestyle.
“For instance, they exercise more regularly. Exercise can thus be viewed as a mechanism that explains the connection between intelligence and physical performance,” Meincke elaborated.
The results are important for the future planning and targeting of initiatives that may help improve or maintain elderly peoples’ physical performance.
Previous research has shown that exercise, health status and socio-economics influence physical performance.
Furthermore, childhood factors may also influence physical performance in later life.