Researchers from Australia National Institute of Complementary Medicine as well as the University of Manchester in the UK have concluded that aerobic exercises have a positive effect on the brain which is critical for memory as well as other functions. Brain health with age deteriorates just like other body parts. The average human brain shrinks by 5% every decade after crossing the age of 40. While previous studies on rats have shown that physical exercises can increase the size of hippocampus in the brain which is responsible for memory as well as other brain functions, it was not proven that humans too can benefit from physical exercise, until now, thanks to these researchers.
This team of researchers conducted 14 clinical trials and scanned the brain of around 737 people prior to performing aerobic exercises as well as after these aerobic programs. The group of people on which this experiment was conducted, was a mix of healthy adults – people with clinical diagnosis of mental illness such as depression and schizophrenia and also those suffering from Alzheimer’s. The age range of the participants was between 24 to 76 years.
The researchers examined the effects of aerobic exercises and found that while the exercise has no overall impact on the total hippocampus volume, it did however increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in the participants. This has been the most definitive evidence that exercises not only have positive effects on the physical health but also has a positive effect on the brain health of humans. Aerobic exercises may not increase the size of the hippocampus per se but the exercises helped in slowing down the deterioration that is caused in brain with every passing decade. Thus, aerobic exercise can now be viewed as a maintenance program for the brain. Having a healthy brain can prevent various age related disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other neurodegenerative disorders.