Look at the Size of that BRAIN!

February 4th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I don’t know about you, but I tend to expect our brains become less powerful as we age.  I didn’t know they actually SHRINK though; that’s weird and I’m not going to lie, scary.

I know memory function declines with age… (in my experience I’m not speaking of only 75 years plus kind of age, either)… and I would have thought it was something we can do very little to prevent.

But this is not true! 

Researchers (those wacky folks) performed a study on 120 older adults to see what they could do to improve brain function.  Now, notice that it was a small study and there is nothing in the abstract to explain what “older” means, so to me this is somewhat vague. 

But the results of the study were fairly conclusive: aerobic exercise training increased the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory of the 120 participants.

That is pretty cool.

Another thing to note is that they performed this study on participants who were previously sedentary.  They took MRIs of their brains at the start, at 6 months, and again after a year’s time.  The MRIs revealed that exercise training increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 years.

I mean, what more could I want from a study?!

The senior author of the study said: even modest amounts of exercise by sedentary older adults can lead to substantial improvements in memory and brain health.  To me, this is proof that exercise does more to improve dwindling brain function due to aging than anything else available.  I’m on board!

Of course, I want to see the study on active older adults to see what their brain size is to begin with compared to their sedentary peers.  I’ll keep an eye out for it and report back if I ever find it.

In a not-entirely-unrelated note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!  (He turns 66 tomorrow and is still bootcamping and golfing like he was thirtysomething.  Right on, Dad!)

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