Want Bigger Brains? Walk

Want Bigger Brains? Walk

True, there's no home-gym equipment designed to build up your brain muscle. But a simple walk will do.

A new study shows that regular cardiovascular exercise can enlarge the hippocampus—a brain structure vital to memory function.

Fit body, better memory
As we age, our brains tend to shrink, and our memory can wither in the process. But a study shows that an aerobically fit person has a larger hippocampus and performs better on spatial memory tests than a less fit subject. In the study, being more fit did not slow the rate of hippocampal shrinkage once it began, but it meant that people generally had more to work with once shrinking started. And that means less total deterioration overall. Find out what types of exercise provide brain-boosting benefits.

Banish brain downsizers
Here are some other cognitive-health tips to consider:

  • Stamp out stress. Chronic stress can be a real brain drain, and troubled finances may be one major cause.
  • Ditch depressing thoughts. Kicking out blue thoughts may help your memory as well.
  • Minimize the mai tais. Some studies suggest that alcohol abuse may shrink the hippocampus.

Are you in a rut? Take this quick mental test and get some simple ideas for boosting your brainpower with new challenges.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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