It has been shown in several studies that regular aerobic exercise increases brain volume in aging humans. The changes were observed in hippocampus and were correlated with dramatic reduction of age-related dementia. Interestingly, the intensity of training had little influence on the results: walking, climbing stairs, gardening were just as effective at reducing dementia as more strenuous exercise.
What is the biological mechanism behind this phenomena?
Fig. The aerobic exercise group showed an increase in the anterior hippocampus and no change in the posterior hippocampus.
- Erickson et al. Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. PNAS. 2011.
- Colcombe et al. Aerobic exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. J Gerontology. 2006
- Ravaglia, et al. Physical activity and dementia risk in the elderly. Neurology. 2008