Daily exercise, along with nutrient-enriched beverages, can do wonder with improving both physical and cognitive health, researchers have discovered.
While exercise alone improved strength and endurance, mobility and stability, those who also consumed the nutritional supplement as part of the study saw all of these improvements and more.
"For example, they were better able to retain new information in their working memory and had quicker responses on tests of fluid intelligence than those taking the placebo," said Aron Barbey, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
To reach this conclusion, 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.
Both groups improved in physical and cognitive function, with added gains among those who regularly consumed the nutritional beverage, the team reported in a paper appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.
Physical power increased in both groups as a result of the physical training, Zwilling said.
"Power is a measure of physical fitness that is based on several factors, such as how fast a participant can pull a heavy sled over a set distance, how far they can toss a weighted ball, and how many pushups, pull-ups or sit-ups they can perform in a set time period," explained post-doctoral researcher Christopher Zwilling.
The physical training reduced participants' body fat percentage and increased their oxygen-uptake efficiency, or VO2 max.
The participants 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.
Their reaction time on tests of fluid intelligence improved more than their peers who took the placebo, the researchers found.