If you exercise before work, or forego fried food for fruits and salads, you can expect brain functions to improve over time, according to a new study.
Living a healthier lifestyle could increase executive function, which is the ability to exert self-control, set and meet goals, resist temptation and solve problems, the study said.
“People who make a change to their health behavior, like participating in physical activity, eating less processed food, or consuming more fruits and vegetables, can see an improvement in their brain function over time and increase their chances of remaining healthy as they age,” said one of the researchers Julia Allan from University of Aberdeen in Britain.
The researchers analyzed the relationship between physical activity and executive function, adjusting for other variables such as age, gender, education, wealth and illness and found evidence that the relationship between the two is bidirectional.
Specifically, individuals with poor executive function showed subsequent decreases in their rates of participation in physical activity and older adults who engaged in sports and other physical activities tended to retain high levels of executive function over time.
Researchers noted that while the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, focused on physical activity and its relationship to executive function, it is likely a positive feedback loop also exists between executive function and eating nutritious foods.
Similarly, it is likely that negative feedback loops also exist, in that unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol will be both a result of and a predictor of declining executive function, the researchers said.