There are a number of supplements available in the market which promises you to improve your memory power. But, what if someone tells you that you don't need to pop a pill to keep your brain healthy? New research suggests that you can improve your brain function with just aerobic exercises.
Researchers came to the conclusion after looking at the brain scans of 737 participants before and after aerobic exercise regimens.
The researchers systematically reviewed 14 clinical trials. The study participants consisted of healthy adults, people who had Alzheimer's and people suffering from depression and schizophrenia. The study participants aged from 24 to 76 years old.
The participants had to do various aerobic exercises such as -- stationary cycling, walking, and treadmill running.
Researchers from Australia's National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the UK examined the effects of aerobic exercise on a region of the brain known as the hippocampus -- critical for memory and other brain functions.
The results, published in the journal NeuroImage showed that exercise had no effect on total hippocampal volume, but it did significantly increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans.
Lead author, NICM postdoctoral research fellow, Joseph Firth said: "Our data showed that rather than actually increasing the size of the hippocampus per se, the main 'brain benefits' are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain."
Generally, brain health decreases with age. After the age of 40, the average brain shrinking starts by approximately five percent, per decade.
Mr Firth said that apart from improving regular 'healthy' ageing, results have implications for the prevention of ageing-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and dementia but further research is needed to establish this.
Interestingly, aerobic exercise is now one of the very few 'proven' methods for maintaining brain size, health, and improving memory in older age.