Physical Exercise Boosts Brain Health

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

We have discussed similar evidence in many earlier posts, but when new studies garner lots of press, we like to weigh in and share our perspective.  Especially on research that suggests new insights into how and why physical exercise benefits the brain.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, walking was once again shown to improve brain health, this time as demonstrated by hippocampul volume.  The hippocampus is a small region in the brain where short-term memory is processed.  It is known to shrink as we age and it's relative size has been shown to correlate with memory capacity.

In this study, 120 sedentary adults between the ages of 55 and 80 were divided into two groups.  One group began a regimen of regular walking while the other began a regimen of stretching and toning. After one year, the group that walked showed an average increase in hippocampul volume of about 2% whereas the other group, who did not participate in aerobic exercise, showed an average decrease in hippocampul volume of about 1.5%.

What is most notable in this study is that the walking regimen was fairly minimal.  The expansion of the hippocampus and a measured improvement in spatial memory were obtained by walking for just 40 minutes per day, three days per week.

Given the potential benefits for such a minimal effort, it seems like we should all consider embracing the habit of a short, regular walk.

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  1. this is totally true, if you work in your physical health for sure all your body is gonna end benefited with this, specially your brain and heart, with a correct distribution of the nutrients you can make your body work in a excellent way.

  2. This is very good news, it seems that taking a walk is good for everything, this is fantastic study.

  3. If it is true the best thing to do. It is to exercise more. the problem is that people aren't used to that kind of thing. It would be better if we help children since early ages with discipline.

  4. Another plus is the beneficial effect that exercise can have on circulation. Proper blood flow is vital to both cellular waste removal and delivery of essential nutrients responsible for proper brain function, such as oxygen and glucose (blood sugar).