More exercise results in healthier eating

Nov. 26, 2011 at 12:07 AM
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BOSTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- People who exercise also start to eat better and as a result their brain may change, U.S. researchers suggest.

Miguel Alonso, a researcher at Harvard University in Boston, said data from epidemiological studies suggest tendencies toward a healthy diet and the right amount of physical exercise often come hand in hand, and an increase in physical activity is usually linked to a parallel improvement in diet quality.

"Understanding the interaction between exercise and a healthy diet could improve preventative and therapeutic measures against obesity by strengthening current approaches and treatments," Alonso said in a statement. "Physical exercise seems to encourage a healthy diet. In fact, when exercise is added to a weight-loss diet, treatment of obesity is more successful and the diet is adhered to in the long run."

Previous studies assessed changes in the brain and cognitive functions in relation to exercise that found regular physical exercise causes changes in the working and structure of the brain, Alonso said.

Alonso supports the notion that "regular exercise improves output in tests that measure the state of the brain's executive functions and increases the amount of grey matter and prefrontal connections."

Inhibitory control is one of the executive functions of the brain and is basically the ability to suppress inadequate and non-conforming answers to an aim, the review published in Obesity Reviews said.

With regard to losing weight and sustaining weight loss in the long run, various recent studies suggest executive functions such as inhibitory control and optimal functioning of the brain's prefrontal areas could be the key to success, Alonso said.

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