Aerobic exercise is known to profit the heart, but specialists say that an aerobic workout may also build brain.

General aerobic exercise, for example, walking may protect the memory focus in the brain, while stretching effort may cause the center — called the hippocampus — to shrink, researchers reported.

In a randomized review including men and women in their mid-60s, walking three times every week for a year led to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory, as indicated by Dr. Arthur Kramer, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill., and associates.

On the other hand, control members who took stretching classes saw drops in the volume of the hippocampus, Kramer and partners describe online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings suggest that it’s conceivable to overcome the age-related decrease in hippocampal volume with only moderate exercise, Kramer asked to MedPage Today, leading to better fitness and maybe to better spatial memory. “I don’t see a downside to it,” he said.

The volume of the hippocampus is known to fall with age by between 1 percent and 2 percent a year, the specialists noted, leading to impaired memory and expanded risk for dementia.

But animal inquire about suggests that exercise reduces the loss of volume and preserves memory, they included.

To test the impact on people, they enrolled 120 men and women in their mid-sixties and randomly assigned 60 of them to a program of aerobic walking three times every week for a year. The remaining 60 were given stretch classes three times every week and filled in as a control group.

Their memory and fitness were tested before the intervention, again after six months, and for a last time after a year. Magnetic resonance images of their brains were taken at the same times in order to quantify the impact on the hippocampal volume.

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