Exercise seems to encourage a healthy diet and improve people's perception of fullness, providing more tools to improve treatments for obesity, according to a new study.

The data showed that more physical activity improves diet quality and increases sensitivity to physiological signs of fullness, researchers at Harvard University said in a study published Tuesday in the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology.

Researchers explained that exercise produces a potentiating effect of executive functions in the brain, including the ability for inhibitory control (the ability of a person to resist food temptations).

"When exercise is added to a weight-loss diet, treatment of obesity is more successful and the diet is adhered to in the long run," Miguel Alonso Alonso, a researcher at Harvard University said in a statement.

Exercise modifies the brain

Eating and physical activity are influenced by cognitive processes in different areas of the brain. Previous studies have already discovered that regular physical exercise causes changes in the working and structure of the brain, according to the paper.

For example, regular exercise improves the brain's executive functions and increases the amount of grey matter and prefrontal connections, according to the research. One of the brain's executive functions is inhibitory control or the ability to self-regulate and behave.

Therefore, improved executive functions such as inhibitory control are key to succeed in weight loss and weight loss sustainability in the long run, researchers noted.

"This success is mainly the fruit of a behavioral change. Inhibitory control could also help to prevent weight gain in healthy people," the paper says.