Want a bigger brain?
Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011
Have you felt light headed lately? Possibly your head is lighter than it used to be unless...
The hippocampus is the brain's memory center. As we age, the hippocampus normally loses 1% to 2% of its volume annually, affecting memory and possibly increasing the risk for dementia.
But, there is hope for us all. A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that a year of modest aerobic exercise reversed normal brain shrinkage by one to two years in older adults, and improved their memory function.
Magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure the effects of aerobic exercise on the hippocampus in Americans in their late 50s to early 80s. Half the group walked three times a week for 40 minutes, aiming for their target heart rate, while the control group did yoga and toning exercises. The hippocampus in the walkers increased by 2% after a year, but continued to shrink by 1.4% in the control group.
For those of you who have done some kind of aerobic exercise your whole life, you have probably had hardly any hippocampus atrophy or memory loss. If you have not done regular aerobic exercise, walking is very easy and enjoyable, and can be done nearly anywhere.
So, hit the pavement or the treadmill at the Y, and feel your head get heavier and your memory become clearer.