Walking keeps body and brain young

Walking keeps body and brain young

Fit foot forward

Walking keeps body and brain young

“Patterns of connectivity decrease as we get older,” said Dr Arthur F Kramer, who led the study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Networks aren’t as well connected to support the things we do, such as driving,” he said. “But we found as a function of aerobic fitness, the networks became more coherent.”

Kramer’s walking study tracked 70 adults from 60 to 80 years old over the course of a year. A toning, stretching, strengthening group served as a control against which to evaluate the previously sedentary walkers. “Individuals in the walking group, the aerobics training group, got by far the largest benefits,” he said. “We also measured brain function.” A group of 20-to-30-year olds were tested for comparison. “The aerobic group also improved in memory, attention and a variety of cognitive processes,” he said.

Dr Lynn Millar said while walking might seem like a simple activity, the brain is working to integrate information from different sources. “When we walk we integrate visual input, auditory input, as well as input that’s coming from joints and muscles regarding where the foot is, how much force, etc. It’s that old concept: if you don’t use it you lose it. For something to be beneficial we need to do it repetitively, and walking is a repetitive activity.”

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