This post is related to the one a few days back which reported on the beneficial effect of meditation on the development and aging of the brain. As a person ages, the part of the brain knows as the hippocampus shrinks, especially in late adulthood. Since the hippocampus has functions which are related to memory, this shrinkage can lead to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia. So it is interesting to read the results of a study which shows that the simple act of walking may improve memory in old age.
This study provides good evidence that even a quite low-intensity exercise can lead to improved brain function, and reverse hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, and backs up earlier research from the University of Pittsburgh which tracked the physical activity of 299 healthy men and women who had different walking habits. When brain scans were taken after nine years on the programme, it was revealed that those who had walked more had greater brain volume than those who walked less. Four years later, the same tests revealed that those who had walked the most — about 7 miles each week — were half as likely to have cognitive problems as those who walked the least.