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.
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?