Sunday, November 13, 2011

How To Help Prevent Memory Loss As We Age

We use to believe that memory loss is an inevitable consequence of aging. However, new research on physical exercise and memory is showing that this belief is false.

The area of the brain called the hippocampus is involved in memory formation. The hippocampus does tend to shrink as we get older. This shrinking of the hippocampus can lead to memory loss and sometimes dementia.

But, new research is showing that moderate aerobic exercise can help increase the size of the hippocampus and improve our mental capability. This is true of older adults who are not experiencing dementia. The benefits of aerobic exercise for individuals with symptoms of dementia is unknown.

The research team led by Dr. Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois and Dr. Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh used 120 sedentary older adults who were not experiencing symptoms of dementia. The participants were divided into two groups. One group walked for 40 minutes a day (aerobic exercise) on 3 days of the week. The other group did stretching and resistance training exercises.

MRI results showed that the aerobic exercise group increased the size of their hippocampus on an average of 2%. The resistance training group showed a decrease in the size of their hippocampus size on an average of 1.4%. The test also showed that the aerobic exercise group showed a significant correlation between their increase in hippocampus size and improved memory performance.

The results suggest that inactive older adults may be able to reverse memory loss tendencies due to a decrease in hippocampus volume with moderate aerobic exercise, such as routinely walking. The trick is to stay physically active.

Stay physically active and retain your cognitive and memory capabilities even in old age.


Related Web Sites:

UCLA Longevity Center
Neurology Institute For Brain Health And Fitness

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