Forget Something? A Walk Might Help You Remember
You can add a sharper memory to the long list of benefits of a brisk walk.
A new study of older adults found that those who walked about 45 minutes three times per week for six months performed substantially better on several cognitive tasks than those who did stretching or strengthening exercises.
And the best part? All of the 124 study subjects had been previously sedentary.
''The nice result of our study is that a person who has not been physically active during his or her younger years still can benefit from walking,'' noted lead researcher Dr. Arthur F. Kramer of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Not only did the walkers perform better on tests that gauged their ability to plan, establish schedules and switch between tasks, they showed significant improvement in oxygen consumption as well.
Previous studies have shown a link between lifelong exercise and a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Some have theorized that this is because exercise enhances the production of certain hormones in the brain that provide a protective effect.
Researchers are unclear as to why exercise improved the brain function of the walkers, but they speculate that the improved oxygenation of tissue afforded by increased cardiorespiratory fitness resulted in greater blood flow to the brain.
Nature, 1999; 400, 418-419.
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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