Fighting Fat Boosts the Brain


If you are a regular reader of the Hound, then you know that eating right and exercising is a smart thing to do. But did you know that losing weight and getting in shape could actually make you smarter?

It’s true – fitness gurus have long known of the “mind-body” connection when it comes to physical heath and emotional well-being, but now there is increasing scientific research into the connection between losing weight and improved cognition and memory. And it seems by many indications, burning the belly can give your brain a boost!

A just released study due to be presented the week of November 5th at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto, found that when overweight individuals lowered their body mass index by about 15 % on average, after four months of a diet and fitness regimen, they also saw similar increases in cognitive abilities.

What was even more fascinating is that the researchers found the increases in brainpower, were directly proportional to the increases in ability to exercise, and decreases in weight. In other words, the more physically fit the participant became, the more mentally “fit” they became as well.

The Belly – Brain Connection

So what’s the connection between weightloss and mental prowess? One explanation is that exercise increases blood flow to the brain. The more you exercise the more the blood flow increases. As one of the lead researchers on the study put it, “If you talk to people who exercise, they always say they feel sharper, or their head seems clearer after a workout. Now we’ve found a way to measure that.”

Other previous studies seem to back up the Canadian’s findings. A 2007 study published in “Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport” found that children who exercised regularly scored better on standardized tests than children who were more sedentary. Similar findings were reported in a 2011 study published by the Georgia Prevention Institute.

However the researchers in the Canadian study were quick to point out that while their research showed that staying in shape or getting in shape can help stave off the effects of decreased cognitive abilities that come with age  — they could not pinpoint a specific cause and effect. Still, they concluded that the study just gives another reason to try to stay active, as you get older.

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