Power Walk to Improve Memory

on Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We all have seen them; the hard core, sweat-band wearing, 1 lb weight carrying, arm seizure swinging, power walkers at the mall. You have joked around with your friends that “when you get older you want to be one of them (wink, wink)”. The reality is that you really SHOULD want to be one of them. An article from ScienceNews explains how a recent study suggests that aerobic exercise in the elderly can improve memory. Up until this point memory loss was something thought to be inevitable, something that comes with the package of getting older, but to scientist’s surprise this isn’t totally the case.

As we get older, our hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory formation, shrinks a little each year. This shrinkage is thought to be one of the causes of memory loss as we age. In this current study there were 120 people between the ages of 55-80 who participated for one year. Half of the participants partook in vigorous aerobic exercise for 40 minutes at least three times a week, while the other half spent the same amount of time doing less vigorous workouts, such as stretching and weight training.

MRI scans and memory tests were given to each participant at the beginning of the study, and once again at the end. To scientist’s surprise, those participants who partook in the aerobic exercise had improved on their memory tests, and both their left and right hippocampus had increased by about 2%. On the other hand, those who partook in less vigorous exercise showed a decrease by about 1% in both the left and right hippocampus. There was also no improvement on memory tests seen.

So, the next time you see a power walker at the mall, envy them, look up to them, and strive to be them when you get older. That way, when someone asks you “What did the hippocampus say during its retirement speech? , the joke of "thanks for the memories" is really on them!

Evaluation: I tried to "hook" my audience by beginning with a topic that almost anyone could relate to; power walkers at the mall. I also tried to arouse my audience by giving an exaggerated visual of power walkers, and then relating this topic to decreasing memory loss. I tried to stick in some humor in order to keep the audience's attention. Pictures were also used in order to split up some of the text, and also to "fulfill and show". One thing that I could improve on is making sure an active voice is used throughout.


Amy said...

The exaggerated visual of power walkers did the trick for me! Not only did I laugh and acknowledge that I have discussed these power walkers myself, but I also wanted to read on. Very interesting study. Thanks for this!

Mason Posner said...

Very creative opening and good description of the basic findings.

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