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Mens Health: Stay Fit for a Healthier Brain, Long Term  Previous Next

Stay Fit for a Healthier Brain, Long Term

by: Veronica

No matter the gender, we all want to stay sharp as we age.  One of the biggest stressors people have about getting older is thinking about how we’ll be able to maintain our memory and more importantly, our overall function as we age, and not burden the kids.  Well, it seems that once again, we’ve got a serious health concern seriously helped by regular exercise. Recent studies are showing that our memory may also depend on how fit we are physically.  Here’s what that means.  It is the brain’s hippocampus that is vital to certain types of memory, and like some other things, its size matters: studies have shown that a bigger hippocampus is better. Researchers have found that elderly adults who are more physically fit tend to have bigger hippocampi and better spatial memory than those who are less fit.  A study published in Hippocampus journal shows that the hippocampus size in physically fit adults accounts for about 40 % of their advantage in spatial memory.

Now, there are certain activities are believed to modify hippocampus size in humans; previous studies also have found that the hippocampus shrinks with age and coincides with cognitive declines at a rate that differs from person to person.  In addition, earlier studies have shown that exercise increases hippocampus size and spatial memory in rodents.  But most amazing is this new Hippocampus study which is the first to demonstrate that exercise can affect hippocampus size and memory in humans.

The researchers found a significant association between an individual's fitness and his or her performance on certain spatial memory tests.  This is pretty clinically significant because it supports the idea that your lifestyle choices and behaviors may influence brain shrinkage in old age—keeping you independent for longer!  So folks, we shouldn’t have to hear it from anyone again, we just need to stay moving on a regular basis for optimal health, all around.

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