Exercise Combined With Nutritional Supplement May Help Improve Cognitive Performance
Previous research has suggested that high-intensity interval training may help increase blood flow to the brain and improve cognitive function. Now a new study suggests that combining high-intensity interval training with a nutritional supplement may further improve memory, reaction time, and processing efficiency.
One hundred and forty-eight Air Force Airmen participated in the study. All of them performed high-intensity interval aerobic and strength training. Half of them received an 8 ounce nutritional supplement beverage containing protein, HMB, choline, lutein, DHA, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins twice daily for 12 weeks. The other received a placebo beverage.
The participants performed a fitness battery test at baseline and at the end of the study. They also took cognitive tests at baseline and at the end of the study to evaluate short term memory, episodic memory, fluid intelligence, working memory, executive function, and processing efficiency and reaction time.
Participants in both groups saw improvements in physical fitness, including strength and endurance (8.3%), power (0.85%), and mobility and stability (22%). Greater improvements in heart rate and lean muscle mass were seen in the supplement group compared to the placebo group. While both groups also saw improvements in cognitive function, the improvements were greater in the supplement group. Specifically, working memory improved 9% more in the supplement compared to the placebo group, reaction time improved by 7.7% more, and processing efficiency improved by 1.5% more.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois. It was published online ahead of print on October 19, 2020 in the journal Scientific Reports.