A recent study has found out that doing regular aerobic exercises could improve memory function and maintain the health of the brain as we age. It also noted that there may be an increase in the size of the brain because of the exercises.
The researchers from Western Sydney University in Australia examined the effects of exercises on a particular region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for memory and other brain functions and found some significant changes.
Reports state that the health of the brain of a person decreases with the age, an average brain shrinks by nearly fiver percent every decade after the person reaches the age of 40.
In order to reach the findings, the researchers reviewed around 14 clinical trials systemically. All the trials examined the brain scans of nearly 737 people before and after aerobic exercises.
All the participants in these trials were between the age of 24 and 76 years. The participants included a mix f healthy adults, people with mild cognitive impairment such as Alzheimers and people with a clinical diagnosis of mental illness including depression and schizophrenia, according to reports.
The researchers evaluated the data of the these trials to examine the effects of the aerobic exercises on the participants, which included stationary cycling, walking, and treadmill running. The length of interventions ranged from three to 24 months, with nearly two to five sessions of exercises every week.
The researchers noted that while exercise had no effect on total hippocampal volume, it did significantly increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans.
Commenting on the findings, Joseph Firth, from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University said, ”When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain- derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain.”
“Our data showed that, rather than actually increasing the size of the hippocampus per se, the main brain benefits are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size,” he added.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Neurolmage.