Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Walk to Remember

With my 60th birthday in a few days, a NYT article caught my attention about the hippocampus, a part of the brain important to the formation of memories. A new study has shown that a brisk walk three times a week can slow the atrophy of the hippocampus which normally begins in healthy adults around 55 or 60.

Indeed, the study by psychologists has shown that the hippocampus can even be modestly expanded and memory improved.

Researchers randomly assigned 120 healthy but sedentary men and women (average age mid-60s) to one of two routines.

One group walked around a track three times a week, building up to 40 minutes at a stretch; the other did a variety of less aerobic exercises, including yoga and training with bands.

'After a year, brain scans showed that among the walkers, the hippocampus had increased in volume by about 2 percent on average; in the others, it had declined by about 1.4 percent. Since such a decline is normal in older adults, “a 2 percent increase is fairly significant."'

It appears a good pair of walking shoes, a scenic place, a partner, and some fresh air can work wonders for physical and mental well being?