Two new studies are out that suggest there is a link between weight, exercise, and memory, in older adults.

In the first study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Rice University, the University of Illinois, and Ohio State University, found that moderate exercise over the course of the year can actually increase the size of the hippocampus region of the brain in older adults, and provide an improvement in memory.

The study involved 120 older adults which were classified as “sedentary”. They were broken into two groups. One group walked vigorously three days a week for exercise. The second group did stretching and toning exercises.

After one year, tests found that the walking group had increases in the size of the left and right hippocampus of their brains. The group which focused on stretching and toning had a decrease within the normal range of ageing. The walking group also performed better on spatial memory tests, and showed an increase in a brain-aiding molecule called BDNF.

This study is to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In an unrelated study, French researchers found that older adults with metabolic syndrome have a higher chance of suffering from memory loss.

A person may have metabolic syndrome if they suffer from three of the following: excess belly fat, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and low levels of HDL cholesterol.

The study done by the French National Institute of Health Research, involved over 7000 people that were 65 and older. They found that 16% of them tested positive for the risk factors of metabolic syndrome. Of those, they found that 20% more suffered from memory loss than those in the group which did not have metabolic syndrome.

This study has been published in the journal Neurology.