-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- 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
The study participants began a twice-a-week routine with an
exercise bike and weight training. After four months, their weight,
body-mass index (a measurement based on height and weight), fat
mass and waist circumference were all significantly lower, and
their capacity to exercise had increased an average of 15
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.
The study was scheduled for presentation Monday at the Canadian
Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto.
"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.
A decline in brain function is a normal part of aging, but the
decline can be worse for people with heart disease, he pointed
"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
The data and conclusions of research presented at medical
meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a
guide to physical activity.
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