Exercise, nutrition regimen benefits physical, cognitive health: study


By Xu Jing

CHICAGO, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the University of Illinois (UI) found that exercise and nutrition regimen can improve physical and cognitive function of people, with added gains among those who regularly consume the nutritional beverage.

The researchers studied the effects of a 12-week exercise regimen on 148 active-duty Air Force airmen, half of whom also received a twice-daily nutrient beverage that included protein; the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA; lutein; phospholipids; vitamin D; B vitamins and other micronutrients; along with a muscle-promoting compound known as HMB.

Participants were randomly assigned to the two groups. The exercise regimen combined strength training and high-intensity interval aerobic fitness challenges. One group received the nutritional beverage and the other consumed a placebo beverage that lacked the added nutrients.

Physical power increased in both groups as a result of the physical training. The physical training reduced participants' percent of body fat and increased their oxygen-uptake efficiency, or VO2 max. The airmen also performed better than they had initially on several measures of cognitive function. The most notable of these was an increase in the accuracy of their responses to problems designed to measure fluid intelligence.

Participants who consumed the nutritional beverage also saw greater improvements in their ability to retain and process information. And their reaction time on tests of fluid intelligence improved more than their peers who took the placebo, the researchers found.

"Our work motivates the design of novel multimodal interventions that incorporate both aerobic fitness training and nutritional supplementation, and illustrates that their benefits extend beyond improvements in physical fitness to enhance multiple measures of cognitive function," said Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology at UI.

The findings, posted on UI's website on Monday, have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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