Reverse the brain aging process
Wouldn’t it be great to reverse the age accumulated damage to your brain, stop the shrinking of your brain? Sound like marketing hype, but there is not much to sell as what does this brain ‘repair’ is simple exercise – walking (aerobic exercise).
I previously posted about how the brain losses about 2 grams per year after the age of 25.
Exercise reverses brain shrinkage
Researchers took a group of subjects 55 or older who were not regularly exercising at the time. The control group stretched and toned, while the experimental group walked 40 minutes a day for 3 days a week. So this is not a overly strenuous exercise routine, this is something most people should be able to perform. By the end of the experiment the walking group averaged about 15 minutes a miles, which is 4 miles per hour. A nice brisk pace.
The main findings were observed in the hippocampus, which is important for memory formation and recall. The control group which stretched and toned had a 1.4% decrease in hippocampus size. But the 3 days a week walking group saw an increase of their hippocampus size by 2%.
So the control group had the continued aged induced shrinking of the brain, and in this particular case the vital hippcampal brain structure. And the walking group not only had no similar shrinkage but an actual increase in size – which is quite amazing.
Researchers said the walking group effectively reverse the age-related volume loss by 1-2 years.
Did the reversal of brain volume loss have any functional affects on memory?
Reassuringly, the reversing of the hippocampus shrinkage was accompanied with an improvement in memory function. Therefore, exercise improved both the morphology of the brain but also a real life functional outcome such as memory. You couldn’t ask for much more.
Take home message:
Get out there and exercise, keep active. Something as simple and easy as walking (aerobic exercise) 3 times a week can help reverse the age related shrinking of your brain. What would a more extensive exercise program do?
walking to prevent memory loss
Is it the exercise-induced release of BDNF?
Can we just drink some BDNF solution everyday….. ?
thanks Ward! great discussion topic!
Hi Carmen, thanks for the comment, and yes they did find a correlation between BDNF and hippocampus volume changes. So if you find or invent a “BDNF drink” that works you could make some serious money. Better start running new experiments
Hello Neurofern, thanks for the comment. Maybe a real expert on the role of exercise for improved brain health should be writing about this topic rather than me – maybe I could encourage you to write a guest post about your research.
I am a 72 year old woman and just recently had a brain scan. Evaluation a slight mass loss and suffered a stroke(not sure when). In the last three years I had several operations because of being rear ended on my way to work. Had a repair of the achilles Tendon which put me to bed for three months, no weight bearing. When I relearned to walk Dr. said that both knees had to be replaced. Here is my question, I can walk only a short distance as it is painful and I am off balance. How can I repair the brain damage if I can’t walk for 15 to 20 minutes. Please help. Thanks Yvonne