As we age, the hippocampus decreases in size, leading to memory deficiency and dementia. I know that I have written previous blogs on the importance of exercise in staying both physically and mentally fit. This study, though, focused solely on walking and its connection to brain function, as opposed to other forms of exercise that are typically viewed as beneficial.
In the study, performed by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, Rice University and Ohio State University, 120 sedentary adults, ages 55 to 80, were split up into two groups. One group was assigned to an aerobic program, walking around a track for 40 minutes a day, 3 times a week, while the other group was assigned to a program of yoga and toning. At the end of the year-long study, participants in the walking group had a hippocampus that had increased in size by about 2 percent, reversing aging by approximately one to two years. The stretching and yoga group, on the other hand, actually saw a decrease in the hippocampus by about 1.4 percent.
This study continues to affirm the theory that fitness and brain function are linked, and should only compel you to exercise even more. And next time you need to go to the grocery store, think about walking.