Navigation Links
Brisk Walks May Boost Memory in Older Adults
Date:1/31/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who took a brisk walk three times a week did better on memory tests and increased the size of their hippocampus, a portion of the brain involved with memory formation, researchers report.

The findings suggest that loss of brain volume in old age can be delayed, and may even be reversible. Brain shrinkage is associated with memory impairment in the elderly.

"We can change the brain in older adults," said lead study author Kirk Erickson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's amazing that a one-year period of moderate exercise isn't just slowing down the atrophy, it's actually reversing it."

For their the study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Illinois, Rice University and Ohio State University divided 120 sedentary adults in their mid to late 60s, on average, into two groups: one group walked around a track for 40 minutes of aerobic exercise, three days a week, while the other group (the control group) did stretching.

Both groups performed better on a test of spatial memory. Spatial memory helps us to remember things like driving directions or where we left our keys.

But the groups differed in one important way. MRI brain scans showed that after a year on the exercise program, the aerobic exercise group's hippocampus was about 2 percent bigger than it was when they started, the equivalent to a reversal in age-related brain shrinkage of about one to two years, the researchers said.

Those in the stretching group had a decrease of hippocampal volume of about 1.4 percent, the investigators found.

Those who showed the greatest improvements in memory also showed the greatest increases in hippocampal volume, according to the study, published online Jan. 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers found that those whose hippocampus grew the most showed higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a growth factor in the blood that's associated with brain health.

Even late in life, the hippocampus continues to grow new neurons, said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

"It's very, very exciting and is essentially proving a theory that has been around for a while, which is that exercise can promote neurogenesis, or the transformation of neural stem cells in the brain into mature, functioning neurons," Kennedy said. "Exercise seems to enhance it or speed it up."

It's possible that exercise could help ward off not only ordinary mental decline but also dementia, Erickson said.

But questions remain. If three days a week is good, would six days a week be better? Would running be better than walking?

"We really don't have a good answer for that," Erickson said, though his prior research found that older people who walked between six and nine miles a week showed significantly less decrease in brain volume over nine years than couch potatoes, but walking more than that didn't seem to increase brain volume any more.

The researchers also looked at the effect of aerobic exercise on two other regions of the brain, the caudate nucleus, which deteriorates with age and disease, and the thalamus, a more stable brain region, but no changes were evident.

"This suggests the effect is not just a widespread increase in brain mass, but it's relatively specific to the hippocampus," Erickson said.

According to background information in the study, in otherwise healthy adults the hippocampus shrinks by about 1 to 2 percent a year, and the decrease is even more rapid among people with dementia.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has tips for starting an exercise program.

SOURCES: Kirk Erickson, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychology, University of Pittsburgh; Gary Kennedy, M.D., director, geriatric psychology, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Jan. 31, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
2. Witty Authors Seize Key to Brisk Book Sales in Slow Economy
3. NAMIWalks Kicks-off “Mental Health Month”; Fun Events that Support Serious Work
4. Pre-surgical stress management boosts immune function, lowers mood disturbance in prostate cancer patients
5. Sprouts? Supplements? Team them up to boost broccolis cancer-fighting power
6. Spotting Gene Variants May Boost Hepatitis C Treatment
7. Yogas Spiritual Balance May Boost Health
8. Functional boost for magnetic resonance imaging
9. Heavy Drinking May Boost Risk for Atrial Fibrillation
10. Consumer Genetic Testing May Not Boost Users Anxiety
11. Certain Painkillers Appear to Boost Odds for Heart Attack
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Brisk Walks May Boost Memory in Older Adults
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... The Radiology Business Management Association ... The annual awards, now in their 12th year, are among the most prestigious in ... In 2016, the awards were retooled to recognize achievements in both large budget (over ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... planning, and related services to families and business owners across eastern Michigan, is ... feeding regional families struggling with financial difficulties. , The Oxford/Orion FISH Food Pantry ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... Northridge dentists, Dr. Michel ... sleep apnea and TMJ at their office. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, has ... type, is increasingly being treated at dental offices with newly developed procedures and ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... Gastro Health ... partnership to prep patients for colonoscopy at the HyGIeaCare® Center that is to ... Miami, FL. , The HyGIeaCare® Prep, cleared by the U.S. Food ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 24, 2017 , ... “End Time ... the salient events will interrelate. “End Time GPS” is the creation of published ... explosives expert while working on military munitions and space-vehicle projects. Now, at age ninety-one, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... March 23, 2017  HealthMine surveys with 9,250 insured ... that health plan members want help from their plans ... engaged in their health, 2) help closing gaps in ... for health and 5) relevant, real-time guidance. Meeting these ... healthcare costs. A Reason to ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... YORK and GENEVA , ... announced on World Tuberculosis Day revitalizes efforts to develop ... On World Tuberculosis Day, TB Alliance and ... for the clinical development of sutezolid, an antibiotic drug ... sublicense pertains to the development of sutezolid in combination ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Life Care, based in St. Joseph, Missouri , has selected AccuReg ... clinics, located in 22 cities, and its flagship St. Joseph Medical Center. ... of health care to its patients, including the insurance, billing and collections processes. ... ... Life Care St. Joseph Medical Center ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: