Aerobic exercise - in this case, walking - can shape up your brain as you get older. A new study has shown that over the course of a year, walking around a track for 40 minutes three times a week can increase the size of the hippocampus, the brain area vital to memory (it normally shrinks as we get older, leading to "senior moments" or worse). A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, Rice University and Ohio State recruited 120 adults ages 55-80, none of whom exercised regularly. Half were assigned to the walking program. The others did stretching exercises and also worked out with weights. Both groups were coached and monitored. MRIs at the study’s end showed increases in the size of the hippocampus among those in the aerobic exercise group compared with MRI results at the outset. Hippocampus size declined among those in the other group. Participants in the aerobic group also did better on spatial memory exercises. The study was published online Jan. 31, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mental exercises for the health of your brain.