En español | The best thing you can do to keep your brain in shape is get off the couch and head out the door for a brisk walk. Just one year of walking three times a week can increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that's key to memory.
See also: Strength training counters muscle loss.
Scientists know that the hippocampus inevitably begins to shrink as we age, leading to impaired memory and an increased risk of dementia. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that aerobic exercise can reverse the shrinkage and improve memory, a finding that builds on past evidence pointing to a relationship between fitness and brain function.
"This important study goes well beyond saying that exercise is good for older people, a statement that often leads people to roll their eyes and say, 'Of course,' " says Columbia University neurologist Scott Small, M.D., who was not involved in the research. "It links exercise specifically to a way in which aging affects the brain and clearly establishes a means to ameliorate the onset of age-related memory decline."