It’s no secret that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are key to good health, as study after study continues to show. But the latest analysis puts some hard numbers on just how big a benefit they can have on the brain, by possibly reversing some of the effects of aging.
In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers led by James Blumenthal, professor in psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, found that even among a group of older people who already show signs of thinking problems, exercising regularly over six months and eating more healthfully can improve their performance on cognitive tests.
The 160 people in the study, who were all over 55, began the study showing thinking skills that were similar to people in their 90s: 28 years older, on average, than they actually were. The volunteers were divided into four groups. One group participated in an aerobic exercise program, another was assigned a low-sodium diet, a third was asked to exercise and change their diet at the same time, and a fourth control group was provided educational sessions about how to improve their brain health.