In case you missed it…
This study was all over the news in February and the findings are significant: Exercise increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory.
Those of you who have heard my brain health talk know the importance of exercise on brain health. This study is the first I’ve seen that actually measures a benefit directly related to brain size in an area of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The results are this—in a study on sedentary men and women with an average age of 60, the authors found those who did aerobic exercise had an average increase in hippocampal volume of 2%. Those who did less aerobic exercise, had a decline of hippocampal volume of about 1.4%. (If you want to see more details about the study, read “For Research Geeks” below.)
Oh, an added benefit… both groups had an increase in spatial memory, though the walkers improved more.
The hippocampus is an important part of the brain involved in forming memories. It begins to atrophy around the age of 55. It is also one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s.
I don’t know about you, but if I know that something will help a part of my brain that is really important in helping me remember things, and it is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s, I’d do it.
Excuse me, I’m off for my brisk walk in the park…
For you research geeks, here is the study info:
“Exercise Training Increases Size of Hippcampus and Improves Memory”
by Erickson, et al., published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1/31/11
• Number of participants—120, divided into 2 groups
• Age range—55-80
• Study period—1 year
• Type of exercise the 2 groups did
o 1st group—walked briskly around a track 3 times a week, building up to 40 minutes a time
o 2nd group—stretching and toning exercises, including yoga and resistance training with bands