Navigation Links
Diet, Exercise Can Improve Thinking

Study finds benefits for the mind, not just the body

MONDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- A good diet and regular exercise may help the mind function better, a new study suggests.

"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."

The researchers followed 124 men and women with high blood pressure who were 52 and a minimum of 15 pounds overweight, on average.

Led by James Blumenthal, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, the study was designed primarily to determine the effect of diet and exercise on blood pressure and included people with mild to moderate high blood pressure.

The mental studies were included because "some previous data linked exercise and diet to better cognitive function," Smith said. The new results verified those findings, he noted.

A third of the participants went about eating and exercising as they usually did. Another third followed the DASH -- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension -- diet, which emphasizes low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, in combination with regular exercise. The final third were in a program that combined the DASH diet with a weight-management program and aerobic exercise.

Two strategies were used in the weight-management program: One centered on reducing portion size and changing habits, such as snacking. The other used an approach called appetite awareness training, which provides guidelines on how much to eat, not just what to eat.

Smith said the exercise part of the program wasn't drastic -- "workouts of 30 minutes three to four times a week, enough to put the heart up to 75 to 80 percent of its maximum rate."

To assess the effects on mental function, the participants were asked to do certain paper-and-pencil tests, such as crossing off specific digits on a page of numbers as quickly as possible.

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 noted.

Physical activity does seem to have a direct effect on brain cells, Smith said. "There are neurochemical changes that happen with exercise, he said. There is increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates connection with other brain cells, he said, but also there is some evidence that it helps grow new brain cells."

And the combination of good eating and exercise also produced the expected physical advances. Diet-and-exercise participants lost an average of 19 pounds and lowered systolic blood pressure (the higher of the 120/80 reading) by 16 points and diastolic pressure by 10 points by the end of the four-month program.

Some experts believe the study has shortcomings, however. It's a well-done study, but one that has flaws, said Dr. Donald LaVan, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

"Its entirely too small," LaVan said. "I would call it a keyhole study, suggestive but nothing definitive. Also, it did not have a control group to look at the effect of exercise alone. We need a bigger study with a longer duration and a control group for exercise alone."

Nothing in the study should deter anyone from exercising for the sake of the mind as well as the body, LaVan said.

"Exercise is great," he said. "But how much exercise itself contributes to mental function is not clear."

More information

Advice on physical activity is given by the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Patrick Smith, M.A., intern, clinical neurophysiology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Donald LaVan, M.D., clinical associate professor, medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; March 8, 2010, Hypertension, online

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. With Amino Acid Diet, Mice Improve After Brain Injury
2. Diet, Cognitive Ability May Play Role in Heart Disease
3. Diet, Exercise Thwart Diabetes: Study
4. Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
5. Healthy Diet, Exercise Keeps Mind Sharp As You Age
6. Diet, Purity of Food Source Could be Keys to Improving Health of Hong Kong Toddlers
7. Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
8. Best-selling authors and physicians from NYP/Weill Cornell discuss diet, surgery and bone health
9. Diet, Exercise Cuts Kids Risk for Metabolic Syndrome
10. Diet, Exercise May Modify Breast Cancer Risks
11. Phone World-famed Martin Schiff, M.D., at 310-454-6172 for Free Weight Loss No Diet, No Stuff Method. Hates Diets, Loves to Have People Help Themselves
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Additional breast cancers found with ... according to a study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers said that ... necessitate a change in treatment. , Breast MRI is the most sensitive technique ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Finnleo, a leader in the traditional and far-infrared ... traditional and far-infrared saunas. , For traditional saunas, Finnleo is offering ... sauna wood, and Finnleo uses only European Grade A Nordic White Spruce from sustainably ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dr. John Pierce, Medical Director ... about hair loss treatment with the Capillus272™ Pro laser therapy cap. FDA cleared for ... and fuller hair, without the need for surgery, prescription pills, or topical foams. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... For the first time, Vitalalert is donating half of its earnings to ... between the two groups began in 2014 with Vitalalert pledging a portion of every ... founded in 1954 and is an international Christian-based health organization whose mission is to ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would ... OH , are invited to attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE ... Cleveland, OH. , As the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... Wound Care Market by Type (Dressings, Therapy Devices, Active ... Facility, Out-Patient Facility), and Geography - Global Forecast to ... --> --> The purpose of ... forecast of the global advanced wound care market. It ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ... ) has announced the addition of the ... report to their offering. --> Research ... addition of the "Self Administration of High ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ... Surface Marker Testing Market: Supplier Shares, ... their offering.  --> ... the  "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: