Physical fitness & brain power: Congrats Magnus Carlsen!

Linda ErnstsenMillions of people all over the world have followed the 2016 World Chess Championship game between the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway and a challenger Sergey Karjakin from Russia that took place in New York City, USA between 11th and 30th of November. After twelve games the result was 6-6, meaning that tie breaks were to decide the match. And finally, last night on his 26th birthday, Carlsen won the four-game rapid chess tie break with 3-1. This was somewhat surprising for many, who did not consider Carlsen to be at his best during the last 12 matches, and twho believed that Karjakin was a great opponent throughout the championship.  When asked about the game by a Norwegian journalist, Karjakin said It was perhaps a mistake that I prepared for both the black and the white portions. I looked at many varieties. But in rapid chess it’s better to be in good shape. And I was not in good shape”.

 Chess is a game that involves many aspects of high level cognition such as memory, attention, focus and problem solving. It is a demanding game that favors the physically fit during long matches and tournaments. Thus, the simple question many of us raise today is if Magnus Carlsen`s physical fitness level better than Sergey Karjakin`s? Research does support the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function in healthy pre-adolescent children and middle-aged and older people.

Exercise is important as medicine for treatment of heart and lifestyle related diseases and for increasing the likelihood and preservation of good heart and brain throughout life. This is true even for the winners of the World Chess Championship.

We congratulate Magnus Carlsen who yet again is the world’s best chess player, and probably the world’s fittest chess player as well.

Linda Ernstsen, Associate Professor, CERG

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This entry was posted in Exercise, Exercise is Medicine, In English and tagged by CERG. Bookmark the permalink.

About CERG

The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) seeks to identify the key mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical on cardiac health in the context of disease prevention and treatment. Named the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine under Professor Ulrik Wisløff's leadership in 2011, CERG uses both top-down and bottom-up approaches to combat lifestyle-related disease.

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