Conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, the study measured the size of brain structures in 49 children by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The researchers particularly focused on the hippocampus, a structure within the brain which is used in learning and memory.
Previous research studying the hippocampus involved animal subjects, and showed that exercise significantly impacts the growth of new neurons and the survival of cells. The new study concludes that this can also be applied to humans.
The study revealed that children that were more physically fit had 12 percent bigger hippocampal volume. They performed better on tests that measured their ability remembering information. For this reason, researchers were able to determine that exercise has an important effect on the brain and improvement of memory and learning.
According to a new study from the University of Illinois, walking at one’s own pace for at least forty minutes, three times a week, substantially improves brain function.
The study included an analysis of 85 adults between the ages of 59 and 80. The participants were involved in a year-long fitness program, which included walking, stretching and toning. Brain connectivity and performance were measured using magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) tests, before, during and after the study period.
After the study, participants of the walking group showed improved connectivity of the brain, particularly in the fronto-executive network, which supports the performance of complex tasks. Their ability to perform cognitive tests was also improved.
Overall brain activity depends on the ability of all brain regions to work together as a whole. The regions become less connected as people age, which is why walking is particularly important for older adults.