Exercise Radically Improves Brain Power

Exercise can keep your brain sharp as you age. A new study has shown that a program of exercise can, over the course of a year, increase the size of your hippocampus, a part of the brain key to memory and spatial navigation.

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The hippocampus often shrinks in late adulthood, leading to memory impairment.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
“To complete the study, the team recruited 120 older people who didn’t exercise regularly. Half were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise program … The group doing aerobic exercise had increases in hippocampus volume: up 2.12 percent in the left hippocampus, and 1.97 percent in the right hippocampus.”

Regular exercise can also improve the ability of overweight children to think, plan and even do math, according to other recent research. MRIs have shown that previously inactive children who start to exercise experience increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior.

The more they exercise, the better the result.

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Eurekalert reports:
“Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.  Activity in the part of their brain responsible for so-called executive function also increased in children who exercised … Similar improvements were seen in math skills”.

Resources:
*Los Angeles Times January 31, 2011

*Wall Street Journal February 22, 2011

*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

*Eurekalert February 18, 2011

*Georgia Health Science News

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