Healthy lifestyle may boost self-control: study

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ISLAMABAD: Living a healthier lifestyle – such as exercising regularly and avoiding junk food – may increase your ability to exert self-control, meet goals, resist temptation and solve problems, a new study has found.

It should be obvious that those with greater self-control live a healthier lifestyle, researchers said. However, the new study suggests that living a healthier lifestyle could also increase executive function, which is the ability to exert self-control.

A feedback loop exists where greater executive function (EF) enables people to lead a healthier lifestyle, which in turn, improves their executive function, researchers said.

“It seems that physical activity and EF are synergistic -they improve one another,” according to the study. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, the University of Stirling in the UK and the University College Dublin in Ireland, used data collected from 4,555 adults.

They analysed 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, said the research published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Researchers noted that while the study 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.

“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 Julia Allan from University of Aberdeen.