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Aerobic exercise boosts memory

Regular walking improved seniors' recall

4:47pm, January 31, 2011

A year of moderate exercise doesn’t just bulk up muscles — it beefs up the brain, too, a new study finds. A memory center in the brain called the hippocampus shrinks a little bit each year with age, but older adults who walked routinely for a year actually gained hippocampus volume, researchers report in a study to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“I think it’s a very exciting contribution to see that walking at a fairly vigorous rate will actually affect a key structure of the brain,” says neuroscientist Carl Cotman of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the study. “So for healthy elderly, it’s good news and would hopefully encourage people to figure that exercise is worth it.”

In the study, 60 adults aged 55 to 80 scaled up gradually until they walked for 40 minutes three times a week, enough to get their heart rates up. Sixty other participants did to

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