According to new UC Riverside research in mice, exercise and a healthy diet in childhood lead to adults with larger brains and lower levels of anxiety .
This study is the first to examine the combined and long-lasting effects of both factors when experienced early in life.
Long-term exercise and diet
To conduct the study, the researchers divided the young mice into four groups : those with access to exercise, those without access, those on a standard, healthy diet, and those on a Western diet.
The researchers determined that exercise early in life generally reduces anxiety behaviors in adults. It also led to an increase in muscle and brain mass in adults. When fed "western" style diets high in fat and sugar, the mice not only gained weight, but also became adults who preferred unhealthy foods .
Previously, the research team found that eating too much fat and sugar in childhood can disrupt the microbiome for life, even if they eat healthier later. In other words, boosting health in the first years of life is extremely important.