There’s no running away from old age, but you might be able to run it off; that’s what scientists are saying about reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study, published in 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences, proves that aerobic exercise may reverse the shrinking of the hippocampus, the part of our brain essential for memory retention and learning, in our old age.
Conducted by Arthur Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute and professor of neuroscience at the University of Illinois, this surprising research also concludes that memory can be improved through regular aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as any activity which includes “repetitive movement of large muscle groups” and gets its power source from fresh supplies of oxygen.
The study followed 120 American senior citizens between the ages of 50-80. Half of the participants were assigned an aerobic exercise regimen 3 times per week aimed at helping them reach their target high rate; the other half were given instruction in yoga and other stretching exercises. MRI scanning of both groups revealed the following results:
- Over the course of one year, the senior citizens who did regular aerobic exercise 3 times per week increased the size of their hippocampus by 2%.
- The group who practiced stretching and muscle toning but did not reach their target heart rate showed a decrease in hippocampus size by 1.4%.
These findings overwhelmingly prove that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be reduced or reversed by an aerobic exercise fitness regimen, even into old age.