Cognition And Muscular Strength

“Cognition can happen in many different ways and combinations.”

– Pearl Zhu

brain lifting weights

Despite Delaware’s lower percentage of people with disabilities, according to the 2016 Disability Statistics Annual Report – “less than one third (33.3%) of elderly,” cognitive impairment worries 60% of adults, to some degree. And “more than 16 million people in the United States are living with cognitive impairment,” according to the CDC.

These numbers suggest that learning more about cognitive problems and how to treat them is more than necessary, which lays the stage for new research on the subject.

An interesting study, published in JAMA, earlier this month, found a connection between muscle strength and cognition and may have promising implications.

The Study

Based on previous findings on objective fitness measures, which were positively linked to physical, mental and cognitive health, the researchers decided to take things a step further. They decided to test people suffering from major depression and bipolar alongside healthy participants.

The population included 110,067 people in the United Kingdom, of which 22,699 were suffering from depression, 1,475 from bipolar disorder and another 85,893, who were healthy.

Cognition and Strength

The study assessed 5 domains of cognition:

  1. Visual memory
  2. Reaction time
  3. Reasoning
  4. Number memory
  5. Prospective memory

By measuring handgrip strength, they found that general cognition was connected to strength in mentally ill and healthy people alike. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be significant difference between populations.

The researchers point out that by focusing on strength, we may be able to asses cognitive states. Not only that, but maybe we can even help improve cognitive functioning through improving strength.


Cognition is a very valuable asset and many Americans worry about maintaining healthy cognitive functioning as they age. A recent study shows a connection between handgrip strength and cognition and may help us handle cognitive impairment from a new angle.

Did you ever notice a connection between cognition and objective strength?

Please share in the comments below.

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