Aerobic Exercise Improves Memory Function, Research Finds

Studies show walking can increase memory function as adults age

A new study explains that basic physical exercise as adults age may help counter the negative effects aging has on the brain and may also help improve memory.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers explain this study to be the first of its kind, and explain that the exercise may improve spatial memory by increasing the size of the hippocampus in the brain.

The hippocampus is vital for memory function and begins to shrink as individuals age, often causing memory loss and potentially leading to dementia.

Past studies have found that adults who remain physically active typically have a larger brain as well, but this study is working to determine the direct effects that aerobic exercise has on brain size as individuals age.

The study involved 120 adults who did not have dementia but lived sedentary lifestyles. They were split into two groups — one group that walked 40 minutes per day, three times per week, and a second group that performed simple exercises.

Researchers analyzed individuals over the course of one year by asking subjects to perform memory tests, undergo brain scans, and give blood samples.

The findings of the study showed that the hippocampus increases in size if an individuals performs aerobic exercise, which directly increases memory function.

Experts are excited about the study and believe the findings can be used in a variety of treatment plans for older individuals.