Aerobic Activity Increases Hippocampus Size and Improves Memory
Growing evidence indicates that there is a strong association between higher levels of exercise and improved brain health in late adulthood. In a study conducted by the University of Illinois, a team of researchers found a correlation between aerobic exercise and increased volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory function, and improved memory in older adults.
The research team studied 120 adults, ages 55 to 88, over the course of a year-long study. Half of the subjects were randomly assigned to a program of stretching and resistance training, while the remaining subjects participated in an aerobic exercise group that walked around a track for 40 minutes, three days a week.
The findings indicated that over the course of the study, subjects in the aerobic exercise group experienced an increase in volume of the left and right hippocampus by 2.12% and 1.97%, respectively. The non-aerobic stretching group showed a 1.40% and 1.43% decline in hippocampal volume over this same one-year interval. In addition to an increase in volume of the hippocampus, the aerobic group also showed a higher amount of brain derived neurotrophic factor, a compound that is associated with better memory.
Based on research such as this, Silverado includes physical exercises, matched as closely as possible to a resident's abilities and interests, in the new Nexus at Silverado early-stage dementia program. Every day our associates incorporate specially designed and monitored physical exercises to help residents improve vascular functions and overall brain health.
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Source: Erickson KI, et al. Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and
improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the
United States of America. 2011.