Navigation Links
Brisk Walks May Boost Memory in Older Adults

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:
Related Image:
Brisk Walks May Boost Memory in Older Adults
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A revolution ... the emergency ambulance transport experience for the millions of people who require these ... disrupted the taxi industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and are derived from many of ... beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary in the current issue of ... full issue, click here . , For the American Society of Clinical Oncology ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Viejo, California (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... Final Cut Pro X. , "Film editors can give their videos a whole new ... said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a ... fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Experts from the American ... Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. ... including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... June 26, 2016 Story ... operating models within the health care industry is causing ... efficiency , Deloitte offers a suite of solutions ... issues impacting efficient cost optimization: labor resource analysis, revenue ... services facilitate better outcomes and better economics ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016  Collagen Matrix, Inc., ("Collagen ... and manufacturing of collagen and mineral based medical ... that Bill Messer has joined the ... further leverage the growing portfolio of oral surgery, ... Bill joins the Collagen Matrix executive team ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016   Bay Area Lyme Foundation ... Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness , Harvard ... MIT Hacking Medicine, University of California, Berkeley, and ... the five finalists of Lyme Innovation , ... than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: