Exercise, eating healthy could improve thinking skills: Study

Some of us really dread waking up early to spend a half hour on the treadmill. But we’re constantly told how important it is to exercise, and a new study only reinforces that fact.

Published in the journal Neurology, the study measured how people with cognitive impairments reacted to an aerobic exercise routine or diet over a six-month period. Starting out, all of the participants had thinking skills akin to those of someone in their 90s, according to Time. They were randomly assigned to groups who took up exercise, ate in line with the DASH diet, did both, or did neither (the control group was put into “health education”).

Over six months, those who both exercised and ate healthily showed the largest positive change; their thinking skills improved by nine years. Those who exercised alone also benefited, though not as remarkably.

“This is not necessarily a cure, but there is currently no pharmaceutical intervention for preventing dementia,” James Blumenthal, the study’s author, told Time. “So a starting point of improving lifestyle with exercise and perhaps diet in this group of people can have important implications down the road for their overall wellbeing.”

Though promising, these results should not come as a huge surprise. Research has long suggested that exercise can improve our creativity and health. So if we want to keep our brains activated, it’s time to hit the gym — even if our beds feel so much more comfortable at 6 a.m.