I keep talking about the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. Now there’s evidence that a good diet and regular exercise may help the mind function better.
“It looks like exercise and diet improve the range of cognitive function,” said Patrick Smith, an intern in clinical neuropsychology and a member of a Duke University team reporting the finding online in the March 8 issue of Hypertension. “It helps executive function, learning and psychomotor speed.”
Researchers at duke university followed men and women with high blood pressure who were 52 and a minimum of 15 pounds overweight.The study was designed primarily to determine the effect of diet and exercise on blood pressure, but the mental studies were included because some previous data linked exercise and diet to better cognitive function.
To assess the effects on mental function, the participants were asked to do certain paper-and-pencil tests. The group that ate well and exercised regularly had an overall 30 percent improvement in mental function by the end of the four-month period.
The researchers say physical activity does seem to have a direct effect on brain cells. But more work is needed to measure how much exercise contributes to mental function. Bottom line: that shouldn’t stop you from exercising for the sake of the mind as well as the body.