If you exercise regularly, you’ve got more reason to get a big head about your efforts: physical activity increases the size of your brain.
In a new review of the evidence conducted by researchers in Australia, the volume of the left side of the hippocampus was reliably bigger among adults who underwent an aerobic exercise intervention. The hippocampus is critical for the formation of new memories, because it’s involved in transferring information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Spatial short-term memory is also useful for navigation.
When older adults suffer from a deteriorating hippocampus, it often results in memory loss and disorientation.
This review suggests that aerobic exercise could help prevent some of the problems that comes with normal ageing, as well as dementia. In fact, the larger brain volume seen in exercisers could actually be due to maintaining brain volume over time rather than adding volume per se.
That means it’s never too early to start exercising as a preventative measure. While you usually can’t directly measure its effectiveness by scanning the size of your hippocampus, you can do something a lot more enjoyable than lying in a scanner: assess your short-term memory using some quick, fun tests from Cambridge Brain Sciences. It only takes 10 minutes, so log in now.