The hippocampus – the part of the brain critical to the formation of long-term memory – typically shrinks as we age, and this can contribute to memory impairment and dementia. Fortunately, exercise (which is already great for our health) may actually reverse this shrinking. One study found the effects of exercise increased hippocampus volume by an amount equal to what older people lose in one to two years. "Studies have shown that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, and it also stimulates production of nerve growth factors," says Verghese. Even just six minutes of exercise post-learning can help boost memory.
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