February 27, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Seniors, Pay Attention: Stay Active

Cardiovascular activity is good for everyone.  Seniors can benefit from taking walks, too.  A new study shows it can help the elderly keep their attentiveness and improve mental performance.  Science News1 reporter Bruce Bower writes:

Seniors interested in pumping up their brains and maintaining an attentive edge might consider taking this inexpensive prescription: Go for a walk every 2 or 3 days.  Don’t sweat it, but make an effort.  Limit each walk to between 10 and 45 minutes.
    That’s the conclusion, at any rate, of two new studies that demonstrate for the first time in people that physical fitness, whether achieved on one’s own or through a brief aerobic-training course, induces brain changes associated with improved performance on an attention-taxing task.

One study showed that fitness was correlated with performance on an activity requiring attentiveness.  Another study demonstrated improvement in performance after six months of aerobic training.  The results from cardiovascular exercise were noticeably better compared to stretching and toning exercise.
    Benefits include a sharper mind, better outlook on life, and improved neural functioning that can enhance independent living.  It’s an all-around good investment.  Make walking a regular part of your week, if you can.

1Bruce Bower, “Neural Aging Walks Tall: Aerobic activity fuels elderly brains, minds,” Science News, Week of Feb. 21, 2004; Vol. 165, No. 8.

Those legs were made for walking.  “Use it or lose it” makes sense for limbs as well as talents.  Not mentioned in the article is the spiritual benefit you will find from taking walks: thankfulness for the beauty of creation.  Get out where the trees are; look at the sky, listen to a bird, and breathe in the fresh air.  Go with a friend and get the added benefit of quality time with someone you love.  Here’s a picture to inspire you.  (More in our Photo Gallery.)

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Categories: Health, Human Body

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