Danish research: Higher intelligence equals improved physicality later on in life

Muscle strength, gripping strength and balance were all influenced

New research from the University of Copenhagen (KU) has revealed a correlation between the intelligence of young men and their physical ability later on in life.

The Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Public Health at KU found that the higher the intelligence of young men measured at their military draft, the better physical performance they enjoyed during their golden years.

“Our study clearly shows that the higher the intelligence score in early adulthood is, the stronger the participants’ back, legs and hands are in midlife. Their balance is also better,” said PhD student Rikke Hodal Meincke, one of the co-authors of the report.

“Former studies have taught us that the better the results of these midlife tests are, the greater the chance of avoiding a decrease in physical performance in old age.”

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All-round improvements
The results showed that for every ten-point increase in intelligence, the muscle strength in the back increased by 0.51 kilos. Furthermore, their jump height, which reflects muscle strength in legs, increased by 1 cm, while the gripping strength, balance and ability to get up from a chair also increased.

Meincke contended that the results are important for future initiatives aimed at improving the physical performance of the elderly.

Earlier research had shown that exercise, health and social-economic status has an impact on physical function, as do childhood factors.

Some 2,848 Danish men born in 1953 and between 1959 and 61 took part in the research, which has just been published in the scientific publication Journal of Aging and Health.