Thursday, December 8, 2011

Exercise, the Brain, and a Healthy Weight

Here's a nice article from about research which shows that exercise changes the brain in ways that can help us make better food choices.  The study was done by Harvard University research scientist Miguel Alonso.  The report says,
The experts point out that these changes seem to have a certain specificity. The Harvard researcher 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 opposite of this would be impulsiveness), which makes modification or self-regulations of a behaviour possible.

With regards to losing weight and sustaining weight loss in the long run, various recent studies suggest that executive functions such as inhibitory control and optimal functioning of the brain's prefrontal areas could be the key to success. This success is mainly the fruit of a behavioural change. Inhibitory control could also help to prevent weight gain in healthy people.

The researcher outlines that "in time, exercise produces a potentiating effect of executive functions including the ability for inhibitory control, which can help us to resist the many temptations that we are faced with everyday in a society where food, especially hypercaloric food, is more and more omnipresent."
 So what that means is that if you want to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, start exercising.  Whatever you decide to do--walk, go to the gym, yoga, pilates, start running...   just begin.  It will help you become aware of your eating habits. 

Put it on your schedule.  Make exercise a priority in your life.  Don't wait till after the holidays--do it now!

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