Want to remain wise with the passing years? Start walking! One study showed that aerobic exercise might actually increase the size of the brain in the elderly.This raises hope that the natural brain shrinkage that begins in middle age might be prevented -- or even reversed -- through regular exercise.
The University of Illinois study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the brain volume of nearly 60 seniors.Half of the group was put on a brisk walking regimen -- one hour, three times a week -- while the rest were assigned stretch-and-tone exercise.The results were dramatic.
"After only three months, the people who [walked] had the brain volumes of people three years younger," observed study co-author Arthur Kramer.MRIs revealed no such improvements for the stretch-and-tone group.Researchers believe that walking pumped more blood to the brain, which in turn fueled the growth of new neurons.