One of the most common assumptions when referring to the ageing process is that everyone loses their memory. For many this thought can be extremely intimidating and worrying with potential for a loss of independence and daily function. What if I were to tell you that you could do something about it?
Age related memory loss is thought to be related to a reduction in the size and function of the hippocampus (a part of the brain) as we age. However activity is well known to increase brain activity as well as blood flow and current research is suggesting that it may even be possible to increase the size of the hippocampus through increasing activity, therefore increasing one’s capacity to retain information and reduce the effects of age related memory loss.
A study published in 2011 took 120 older adults without dementia and randomly assigned them to two groups; one group undertook aerobic activity three days a week whereas the other group undertook stretching exercises (Erickson et al, 2011). Shrinking of the hippocampus is expected at 1-2% per year in older adults which was demonstrated in the stretching group whereas an increase in hippocampal volume by 2% was demonstrated in the aerobic group adding 1-2 years’ worth of volume to the participants!
These results concur with other recent research papers demonstrating the effects of activity on hippocampal activity and spatial memory (Speisman et al, 2013; Siette et al, 2013).
The ability to recognise an environment in older age has huge implications on one’s ability to maintain independence, health and overall wellbeing. Increasing daily aerobic activities such as walking, jogging and cycling appears to demonstrate huge benefit to maintenance of brain function and memory potentially reversing this ageing process.
This research reaffirms the One Precious Life principle of increasing daily activity for health and wellbeing, what are you waiting for?
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)
Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A. et al. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022.
Siette, J., Westbrook, R. F., Cotman, C., Sidhu, K., Zhu, W. et al (2013). Age-specific effects of voluntary exercise on memory and the older brain. Biological Psychiatry, 73(5), 435-442.
Speisman, R. B., Kumar, A., Rani, A., Foster, T. C., & Ormerod, B. K. (2013). Daily exercise improves memory, stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis and modulates immune and neuroimmune cytokines in aging rats. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 28, 25-43.