Your health care provider has probably long been suggesting that you get more exercise to help manage weight and improve cardiovascular health, but a new study reveals an interesting additional benefit. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that regular cardiovascular exercise may be able to slow or even help reverse age related memory loss.
More than 100 sedentary adults were divided into two groups for the study, the first participated in aerobic exercise on three days per week and the other performed only stretching and toning exercise. Brain scans were taken prior to beginning the prescribed activity and again one year after the study had begun.
The results of the brain scans revealed an increase of nearly 2% in the size of the hippocampus in the group that participated in regular aerobic exercise. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that plays a large part in the formation of memory.
The comparison group did not show a similar benefit from simply stretching and toning. On average members of the comparison group had a decrease in the volume of the hippocampus of nearly one and a half percent.
This study is one of the first to truly take an in depth look at the potential effect exercise can have on age related memory loss. If the these results can be repeated in larger studies, health care providers may soon be prescribing increases in activity even for patients who’ve got their weight and cholesterol under control.