Modest Walking Boosts Brain Connectivity, Research Says

by Lois Etienne on September 27, 2010

in Senior Health and Safety

Recent research makes an important link between walking and brain connectivity. A study, published inFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience, followed 65 adults, aged 59 to 80, who joined a walking group or stretching and toning group for a year.

Healthy Seniors in Washington State

The study found that walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

All of the participants were sedentary before the study – led by researchers at the University of Illinois – reporting less than two episodes of physical activity lasting 30 minutes or more in the previous six months.

Neuroscientists have identified several distinct brain circuits including the default mode network (DMN), which dominates brain activity when a person is least engaged with the outside world – either passively observing something or simply daydreaming. Previous studies found that a loss of coordination in the DMN is a common symptom of aging and in extreme cases can be a marker of disease, researchers noted.

At the end of the year, DMN connectivity was significantly improved in the brains of the older walkers, but not in the stretching and toning group, the researchers report.

So please share the benefits of walking with others. Companionship is a great motivator to healthy living. Walking clubs can be found in most communities. Contact your local senior center or Area Agency on Aging. Or just hook up with a few friends who would like to join in the fun.

For additional information about this study, log on to http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/10/0826walk.html.

For more information or to get answers to your questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.  We can be reached — anytime day or night – by calling Spokane509.835.5898, North King/Snohomish Counties: 425.670.2292 or South King/Pierce Counties253.943.1603. You can also email us at loisetienne@homeinsteadnw.com

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