According to a new study published in the National Academy of Sciences, aerobic exercise can increase the size of the aging brain’s hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that houses memory and spatial navigation.
Over a period of one year, researchers studied 120 adults between the ages of 55 and 80 who did not exercise regularly. Half of the group was given an aerobic exercise program while the other half did a stretching and weights program. Both groups received MRIs and performed memory exercises. The group that did aerobic exercise had increases in hippocampus volume which the stretching and weights group had a decrease in hippocampus volume.
Based on this study, the loss of hippocampal volume in late adulthood can be reversed with moderate exercise. Starting an aerobic exercise program later in life is not futile for either enhancing cognition or augmenting brain volume. Therefore, if you want to help your memory as you get older, stay active.