Exercise and Weight Loss Give Brain a Boost
Study finds that getting fit helped overweight, inactive adults sharpen their thinking skills, too
Regular high-intensity exercise is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your brain, researchers report.Their new study included overweight and inactive adults, average age 49, who underwent tests to assess their thinking, decision-making and memory skills — also known as cognitive function.
In addition, follow-up testing showed that the participants’ brain function had also improved, and that the increases were proportional to the improvements in exercise capacity and body weight. Simply put, the more they could exercise and the more weight they had lost, the greater their improvement in thinking skills, the investigators found.
“If you talk to people who exercise, they say they feel sharper. Now we’ve found a way to measure that,” Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, said in Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada news release.
Blood flow to the brain increases during exercise. The more fit you are, the more that blood flow increases, Juneau explained.”It’s reassuring to know that you can at least partially prevent that decline by exercising and losing weight,” Juneau said in the news release.
While the study found an association between increased physical fitness and improved thinking skills, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.More information
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.