Studies have revealed that the hippocampus—
a part of the brain important for memories — in healthy adults, begins to atrophy or degenerate around the age of 55 or 60.
But all is not lost, say psycholiogists who propose that the hippocampus can be expanded (read rejuvenated) , at least to modest proportions, by regular walking.Study on Walkers
In a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
on Jan 31, researchers randomly selected a group of 120 men and women (average age mid-60s) who were healthy but sedentary.
They were then assigned to two exercise groups -
· One group walked thrice a week around a track for 40 minutes at a stretch
· The other group indulged in exercises such as yoga and resistance training with bands, that were less aerobic Result Brain scans
on these people taken after a year revealed that the hippocampus had expanded in volume by an average of 2 percent among the walkers; while in the other group it had dwindled by about 1.4 percent. The decline in the latter is thought to be normal in older adults.
According to the lead author, Kirk Erickson
, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh "a 2 percent increase is fairly significant."
A test of spatial memory
showed improvement in both the exercise groups but, even here, the walkers scored
over the others. Conclusion
This pilot study requires further probe
to establish its discoveries.
But the truth remains that walking does positively impact
a person's memory by expanding the hippocampus region of the brain. What then are you waiting for? Put on those shoes and start walking!