As we age, a region in the brain called the hippocampus starts to shrink. The hippocampus is the region in the brain, which is responsible for memory formation and storage. It is believed that the deterioration seen during aging is the cause for age-related declines in memory.
Previous research has shown that after older adults began to exercise, this region began to re-grow, and their memory improved. This study focused on middle aged men and women to see if they could benefit as well. The study consisted of two groups. One group exercised the equivalent of 2 hours per week, while the other did not. Each group was given a fitness test both before and after the study. They also were given a test to measure their memory capacity, memory function, and cognitive skills both pre and post-study.
The active group improved their memory tests, but not on the cognitive tests. The improvement on memory was significant, and these improvements have practical day-to-day benefits from remembering your “to do” list, rehearsing your presentation, and the like. Scientists believe that this is due to increase blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow does two things: it increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the brain, and it helps remove excess waste products so they don’t build up.
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