In recent times, so much emphasis has been placed on staying healthy that it seems to be a highly sought after business. Who doesn’t want to stay active and healthy? But when it comes to older adults, it could well be the need of the moment rather than a wish. Staying active ensures not only a healthy body, but also a healthy brain.
Exercise is known to be a good antidote for depression. It releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which improve your mood. Studies have shown that exercise can make you happier, build stamina, and boost self-esteem.
In the elderly, memory loss is associated with the shrinkage of a part of the brain, known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps form memories. Recent studies show that regular aerobic exercise can be helpful in slowing or even reversing age-related memory loss in older adults. This happens as a result of an increase in the size of the hippocampus resulting from exercise.
The researchers found that one year of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, increased the volume of the hippocampus by nearly 2%, resulting in an effective reversal of age-related hippocampal contraction within one to two years.
Experts consider that the contraction of the hippocampus is inevitable in old age, but it is believed that the brain is modifiable even at this stage by them. They are sure that even a year of moderate exercise can increase the six of the hippocampus.
Exercise and brain
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers randomly selected 120 adults between the ages of 55 and 80 into one of two groups. One group followed an aerobic exercise program of walking around a track for 40 minutes a day, three days a week; the other group was assigned a limited exercise restricted to stretching and toning exercises.
One year later, brain scans taken at the start of the study and those taken after one year showed that the right and left sides of the hippocampus increased by 2.12% and 1.97%, respectively, in the aerobic exercise group. . However, when studying brain scans, it was found that the right and left sides of the hippocampus decreased in volume in the other group by 1.40% and 1.43%, respectively.
Some other tests of spatial memory function also showed marked improvements in the aerobic exercise group associated with this increase in hippocampal volume. The researchers also found increases in several markers related to brain health, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which resulted in a corresponding increase with increased hippocampal volume.
The results of this case study are particularly interesting in that they suggest that even a modest amount of exercise by older adults can lead to substantial improvements in memory and brain health. These improvements can have major implications for the health of the elderly and the ever-expanding population of older adults around the world. “