Brain fitness programs may help frail elderly walk faster

September, 2010
  • Walking speed and balance may be improved in seniors through a brain training program. Research has indicated that a common pathology underlies cognitive impairment and gait and balance problems.

On the subject of the benefits of walking for seniors, it’s intriguing to note a recent pilot study that found frail seniors who walked slowly (no faster than one meter per second) benefited from a brain fitness program known as Mindfit. After eight weeks of sessions three times weekly (each session 45-60 minutes), all ten participants walked a little faster, and significantly faster while talking. Walking while talking requires considerably more concentration than normal walking. The success of this short intervention (which needs to be replicated in a larger study) offers the hope that frail elderly who may be unable to participate in physical exercise, could improve their mobility through brain fitness programs. Poor gait speed is also correlated with a higher probability of falls.

The connection between gait speed and cognitive function is an interesting one. Previous research has indicated that slow gait should alert doctors to check for cognitive impairment. One study found severe white matter lesions were more likely in those with gait and balance problems. Most recently, a longitudinal study involving over 900 older adults has found poorer global cognitive function, verbal memory, and executive function, were all predictive of greater decline in gait speed.

Reference: 

Comments

Grip strength & walking speed: mortality link

On a side-note, I read of a recent review that found adults with weaker grip strength and those with slower walking speed, were more likely to die younger than those who were stronger and faster. Speed rising from a chair, and balance when standing on one leg, were likewise associated with longevity. While all that may simply reflect a common link with physical activity levels, it is intriguing to note that one of the studies used measures of grip strength when the participants were younger than 60. (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/10/firm-grip-sign-of-longer-life for more details of this review)
In any case, the findings suggest the value of using these simple measures to identify those most in need of intervention.

Pages

Related News

Data from 330 participants in The 90+ Study, of whom 70% were women, has revealed an overall annual incidence rate of 18.2% for dementia, rising from 12.7% per year in the 90-94 age group, to 21.2% in the 95-99 age group and 40.7% per year in the 100+ age group.

A study involving over 1000 older men and women (60-75) with type-2 diabetes has found that those with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood are more likely to have experienced cognitive decline.

Following on from studies showing that a Mediterranean-like diet may be associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and may lengthen survival in people with Alzheimer's, a six-year study of 712 New Yorkers has revealed that those who were most closely following a Mediterranean-like diet

A new test has been developed that measures amyloid-beta oligomers in the cerebrospinal fluid, promising a reliable means of early diagnosis.

A computerized self test (CST) has been developed that is 96% accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer’s and

Both diabetes and clinical depression are known to be risk factors for dementia. Now a study that tracked nearly 4000 diabetics over 5 years has found having both increased the risk 2.7-fold.

A brain scanning study using Pittsburgh Compound B, involving 42 healthy indi

Data from over 900 community-dwelling older adults participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project has found that greater purpose in life was associated with a substantially reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, as well as a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and a slower rat

An analysis technique using artificial neural networks has revealed that the most important factors for predicting whether amnestic mild cognitive impairment (

Data from 625 elderly Americans, followed for an average of 8.5 years, has revealed that those with very good or excellent vision at the beginning of the study had a 63% reduced risk of dementia over the study period.

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news