Latest News & Research: 5 December 2017

This week: Exercise can undo some harm of smoking • Intense exercise boosts memory skills • Skipping brekkie boosts fat-burning in lean people, but not in obese • Exercise without dietary change doesn’t reduce BMI

Intense exercise boosts memory skills

Canadian research has found that daily bouts of intense exercise can significantly enhance memory function.

In a test of ‘high-interference’ memory, a group of young adults that participated in six weeks of daily 20-minute intense interval sessions significantly outperformed those who didn’t undertake any physical activity.

‘Interference memory’ is the ability for our existing knowledge to work seamlessly with new information.

Lead study author, Jennifer Heisz, of McMaster University, said ‘These findings are especially important, as memory benefits were found from a relatively short intervention. Improvements in this type of memory from exercise, might help to explain the previously established link between aerobic exercise and better academic performance.’

Skipping brekkie boosts fat-burning in lean people, but not in obese

The debate about whether breakfast really is the most important meal of the day or not has been raging for some time, with various observational studies reporting conflicting findings.

A new UK study, however, looked at how eating breakfast affects the fat cells and metabolism of lean and obese individuals.

Over a six-week period one group of obese individuals ate breakfast, while another fasted until midday. Concurrently, a group of lean participants ate breakfast while another fasted.

The researchers, led by Javier Gonzalez at the University of Bath, found that lean people who skipped breakfast saw their metabolism, and ability to ‘burn’ fat, increase. The effect was not evident in the obese study participants, which the researchers speculate may be due to an adaptive mechanism whereby obese people’s bodies try to limit the amount of glucose their fat cells can take, so that it avoids storing additional fat.

Exercise can undo some harm of smoking

In an ideal world nobody would be damaging their health by smoking. It’s not an ideal world, though, so the news that exercise can help to reverse some of the negative physical effects of smoking should be greeted positively.

Perhaps think of it more as smokers that are doing something positive by smoking, rather than the arguably more difficult to comprehend ‘exercisers who choose to smoke’.

New German research found that mice exposed to smoke that then undertook daily physical activity for eight weeks were able to reverse some of the muscle loss and inflammation caused by the smoke exposure.

The researchers concluded ‘Regular endurance exercise training seems to protect long-term smokers against some important negative local and systemic consequences of smoking.’

Of course, the most common physical side effect of smoking is lung cancer – for which this study did not reveal exercise to be the cure.

Exercise without dietary change doesn’t reduce BMI

More reinforcement this week that exercising alone is only part of the fat loss equation and that what our clients put in their mouths makes a world of difference to their success.

A UK study found that both a 4-week and an 8-week exercise program that required female participants to do circuit classes three times a week, without changing their diet, did not result in a reduction in BMI.

Participants were classified as lean, overweight or obese. The lean participants did record an increase in muscle mass.

The researchers took pains, however, to emphasise that the benefits of exercise are not limited to fat loss – even if that may be the primary aim of many exercisers. Lead study author Dr Hans-Peter Kubis said ‘Knowing how much fat and muscle we have in our body is much more important than knowing how much we weigh. When we focus on weight alone, we miss the improvements achieved via exercise training. Seeing no change on [the] scales may be enough to make people give up on their exercise training, not realizing that they have actually improved their body by gaining muscle mass.’