Extra walking improves the brains of older adults

Results were obvious after just 12 weeks

Walking — good for you, and the scientific proof keeps piling up

What's the news: Extra walking improves cognition and "brain connectivity" in older adults.

Why should we believe it: This news is based on a study published earlier this month. The study was performed by scientists at the University of Maryland, and involved 33 adults, aged 71 to 85.

The scientists had these folks walk, on a treadmill, for 30 minutes, 4 times a week, for 12 weeks total. The scientists measured how well the participants performed on a cognitive test at the start of the 12 weeks and at the end of it. They also did fMRI brain scans. And the results:

  • "Significant improvement" on the cognitive test (folks were faster and more accurate after the 12 weeks)

  • fMRI scans showed brain activity was stronger and more synchronized after the 12 weeks of walking

Why this is a big deal: Some of the participants in this study had normal brain function, but others had mild cognitive impairment — a slight decline in mental abilities and a risk factor for Alzheimer's.

The current study showed that the brains of both normal participants and those with mild cognitive impairment could be improved, and the intervention was very simple and quite quick.

So what specifically can you do now: Walk. Regularly. More than you do now. Whatever your age, walking will keep you alive longer, and it will keep your brain healthy.