The Elderly Can Increase Brain Volume with Exercise

The Elderly Can Increase Brain Volume with Exercise

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  1. Being active doesn’t just help you keep up your energy and muscle, but it also protects your brain from the deterioration associated with aging. In the elderly, forgetfulness and dementia can settle in and make communication with friends and family difficult, but a new study from the PNAS bring new hope. The study suggests physical exercise not only protects the brains of the elderly, but it can also reverse some of mental issues associated with aging.

    The study involved 120 elderly adults that were divided into two groups:

    • Group 1 did three moderate-intensity aerobic workouts weekly
    • Group 2 spent the same amount of time with simple stretching and toning exercises.

    In order to minimize bias in the study, the researchers remained blind to which participants were in which group when analyzing the data.

    At the beginning of the experiment, the elderly participants were given MRI and memory tests. They were tested again after 6 months midway through the experiment, and then once more at the end when it had been 1 year into the experiment.

    The less aerobic test group 2 saw a slight decline of 1.4% in the volume of the hippocampus by 1.4%, which is the brain region associated with memory. The more aerobic test group 1 in contrast had the volume of the hippocampus increase by just over 2%.

    Even though the aerobic group 1 saw the greater amount of improvement after a year of exercise, both groups had improved memory test result.

    The authors of the study noted that the increase in blood flow to the brain from the aerobic workouts likely had an impact on the improvement. Increased oxygen to the brain can help improve memory, since the brain functions better with increased oxygen intake. This makes a more aerobically fit body a likely cause for an improved memory as a result of a healthier mind.

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