fitness workplace wellness

Study Reveals Additional Benefits of Fitness as Workforce Ages

Often it seems the benefits of fitness know no bounds.

We’ve reported on links between fitness and health, diet, chronic disease management and more. Now a new study adds to the list: Language.

The study published in Nature is titled “Higher physical fitness levels are associated with less language decline in healthy ageing.” It states that “Healthy ageing is associated with decline in cognitive abilities such as language. Aerobic fitness has been shown to ameliorate decline in some cognitive domains, but the potential benefits for language have not been examined.”

This issue may have added relevance for employers — and for well-run workplace wellness programs — because of a shift in the domestic labor pool.

A recent piece in MIT Sloan Management Review┬ánotes that “current trends in longevity and technological innovation… will impact the length of time people can expect to work and the forms their working lives might take.”

It continues: “In a dynamic labor market, where jobs and skill requirements are no longer static, accurate anticipation is key to managing a working life. Anticipation provides people with opportunities to gauge which jobs may be at risk and to identify the tasks and jobs that are being created. Knowing how jobs may morph and expand creates a basis for personal planning and acts as a motivator to learning.”

 

Can improved fitness serve as one tactic for employees — and their employers — to improve their long-term cognitive functionality?

According to the researchers who published in Nature, “In a cross-sectional sample, we investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and tip-of-the-tongue states. These are among the most frequent cognitive failures in healthy older adults and occur when a speaker knows a word but is unable to produce it.”

The researchers found:

  • “Healthy older adults indeed experience more tip-of-the-tongue states than young adults.”
  • “Higher aerobic fitness levels decrease the probability of experiencing tip-of-the-tongue states in healthy older adults.”
  • “Fitness-related differences in word finding abilities are observed over and above effects of age.”

As the workforce ages, these new insights may prove useful for employers. As the authors note: “This is the first demonstration of a link between aerobic fitness and language functioning in healthy older adults.”