Hippocampus volume typically decreased with age by between 1% and 2% a year; this can lead to an increased risk in dementia and memory problems. However, something as simple as walking regularly could help to halt decreases in hippocampus volume, even causing volume increases. According to a study recently reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, men and women who walked three times a week for one year experienced an increase in hippocampus volume. The randomized trial, conducted by Arthur Kramer, PhD, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill., and colleagues, enrolled 120 men and women in their mid 60’s to solidify similar findings of hippocampus retention associated with exercise in animal research. Overall, participants in the study who walked three times a week experienced a 2% increase in hippocampus volume compared to an average loss of 1.4% in a control group.
Considering the lack of risk involved in moderate exercises, like walking, and the already established health benefits, Kramer and colleagues encourage the aging to take a stroll now and then. “I don’t see a downside to it,” Kramer said.
Click here to read an article from US News and World Report that discusses this study more.