Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that walkers increased the size of their hippocampus, the region of the brain that controls new memories, by 2 percent after one year of walking 40 minutes three times a week.
The researchers divided 120 older adults, average age 66, who did not have dementia, into two groups: a stretching group and a walking group. The group that walked increased their hippocampus, while the stretching group showed no improvement, according to the 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Normally, that area of the brain decreases about 1 to 2 percent a year in adults, said Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, increasing their risk for developing Alzheimers.
Source: Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)