|Can Exercise Improve Memory? - Photo by Jusben|
As people age, the brain's hippocampus area tends to shrink. This area is important in forming new memories. One body chemical, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), tends to increase with improvements in memory.
Studies indicate that moderate aerobic exercise on a regular basis is linked to chemical changes in the brain. BDNF increased in groups assigned to aerobic exercise and was linked to increases in the front part of the hippocampus. This translated to better performance on memory tests.
Can consistent aerobic exercise improve one's memory and perhaps combat Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia? Perhaps. A sedentary lifestyle has been credited with a large number of chronic health conditions that can decrease one's quality of life and drain one's pocketbook. Aerobic exercise might be an excellent investment of time for getting more enjoyment out of the future.
Before starting or changing any exercise routine, discuss options with one's healthcare provider.
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- National Institutes of Health October 24, 2011 online article Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males.
- Trudeau, Michelle February 21, 2011 online article Aerobic Exercise May Improve Memory in Seniors NPR web site.