Following on from my recent blog about omega 3 acids and brain health, research has shown that taking regular exercise can ‘grow back your brain’ helping to reverse the early signs of nerve degeneration and improving memory.

In a study of 120 60-80 year olds, all the participants took part in 3 to 4 weekly sessions of regular exercise.  Half the group were assigned 30-45 minutes of brisk walking while the other half did light stretching exercises.  The study took place over 12 months and the partipants had MRI scans and cognigitive testing at the beginning and end of the study.

The exercising group brain scans showed increased brain volume in the areas associated with memory, decision making and social behaviour. In contrast the other group showed brain shrinkage in line with the decline in brain volume seen in the elderly.

Brain shrinkage can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia (see the link to my previous blog at the bottom of this page).  Although it is not yet known exactly how exercise improves brain function, it may be due to increased blood flow that brings oxygen and energy to neurons in the brain.

Profession Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh said that many forms of exercise including walking, swimming or playing tennis could be helpful:

‘Quite often people are misled into thinking we need lots of exercise to see positive effects but with moderate exercise we are seeing enormous benefits………………results from these studies suggest that the brain and cognitive function of older individuals remain highly plastic.  It’s not this inevitable decline that we thought it was.’

Please click on the links below to read my other blogs about keeping your brain healthy: