Walking isn't among the most strenuous of activities, but it does benefit both the body and mind, according to research conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study, led by Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, is published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and reported by Reuters.
Kramer and his team tracked 70 adults between the ages of 60 and 80 for one year. Compared to the sedentary group, those in the walking group experienced significant improvements in a variety of cognitive factors, but the results were not apparent until after twelve months of continuous training.
Dr. Lynn Millar, an expert with the American College of Sports Medicine, says that walking seems like a simple activity, but it requires the brain to process information from many different sources, such as pressure under the foot, joints and muscles indicating the location of the foot, and visual and auditory stimuli. Working to integrate all this information helps strengthen connections and networks in the brain.
To provide a comparison for brain function measurements, the older adults were compared to a group of 20-to-30-year olds. After twelve months, the older adults exhibited coherence different regions in the brain's networks that were comparable to the younger adults in the study. Memory and attention were improved in the walking group after twelve months, as well as other cognitive factors.
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