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Lockdown Activity Levels, Wired For Sugar & Brain Fitness | This Week’s Top Studies

Ready for some mind-blowing science from this week’s studies? We thought so. If you want to stay ahead of the game when it comes to knowing the latest about nutrition and fitness, then you’ve come to the right place.

This week, we’re looking at how many people are staying active during lockdown, the newly discovered gut-to-brain sugar circuit and how exercise supports your mental fitness.

 

Has your activity level dropped since lockdown?

 

We’re all spending a fair amount of time indoors (as we should) and are unable to get to the gym, so are we managing to keep up with our usual exercise routine, or are many of us using it as an excuse for a well-earned break?

According to a study of 1000 people in Ireland, 69% of people are doing the same amount of exercise, and 33% are doing even more. The survey also found that 50% are cooking and baking more, which linked nicely to the 52% who were snacking more than usual too — sound familiar?

While these stats are from a pretty small survey size, hopefully they will bring a bit of positivity about your indoor workouts. We think it all sounds pretty familiar to be honest. In the meantime, anyone for a slice of homemade cake?

 

Is your body wired for sugar?

 

With more time and tons of Easter treats to munch through, you’re probably craving sweet treats more than you would usually have a few weeks ago. So, as the last of the Easter eggs call to you, are we wired to want sugar?

A new study has found that there’s a gut-to-brain circuit hard-wired to react to sugar consumption. Researchers looked at the brain activities of rodents when they consumed sugar versus an artificial sweetener, or water, and found that there’s a region of the brain that only responds to sugar.

This part of the brain is usually a hub of information on the state of the body, and the path to this part of the brain begins in the intestine. While this study was done on mice, the researchers believe that the same pathway exists in humans too.

They believe that uncovering this circuit helps us to understand how our brain is impacted to make us want even more. We’ll have to wait and see if the research stacks up in humans first.

 

How fit is your brain?

 

Your body may be fit, but have you ever thought much about how fit your brain might be? According to a new study, taking part in sport can improve your cognitive performance too. So, which types of sport are most effective in boosting that brain power?

After looking at lots of studies, the researchers found that endurance and strength training both improved cognitive performance, but sports that required coordination, or complex patterns of movement improved it even more.

It found that the length of exercise didn’t really play a role in improving cognitive performance, but a tough workout held brain boosting bonuses for men and boys, paired with a gradual increase in intensity.

So, you want to ace that exam, or work assessment? Here’s your excuse to “revise” at the gym.

 

Take home message

There’s so much to learn from health and fitness science. Hopefully this gives you a taste for what’s out there. Check back next week to find out the latest in expert science advice and crazy new fitness knowledge.

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Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.

In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

Find out more about Evie's experience here.


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