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Walking can improve memory and reverse muscle loss


(NaturalNews) As the saying goes, it's not growing old that causes a person to lose mobility, but rather a lack of mobility that causes a person to grow old. And a new study out of Yale University affirms this, having found that staying mobile is the key to improving memory and both preventing and reversing muscle loss.

Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine and one of the study's co-authors, looked at 1,600 sedentary people between the ages of 70 and 89 who had some physical limitations, but who were also capable of walking roughly a quarter of a mile in 15 minutes or less without assistance. All of the participants were followed for about 2.7 years and monitored for health.

Half of the group was part of a health education program that involved in-person coaching sessions and stretching exercises, while the other half was told to engage in 150 minutes of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance training both at the study facility and at home. In both groups, the primary emphasis was on walking regularly.

What the team observed after the study period concluded was that those participants who engaged in regular physical activity in the form of walking avoided developing a "major mobility disability" to a greater extent than those who didn't. The mobility participants were also less prone to developing a physical disability compared to others who were less active.

Not only were those elderly folks who engaged in regular physical activity less prone to developing mobility issues, they also showed a greater ability to heal from preexisting conditions. They likewise demonstrated improved mental capacity and were stronger overall, maintaining higher amounts of muscle mass compared to their more sedentary counterparts.

"They've done a really nice job of showing the incredible power of physical activity," commented Bradley Cardinal, a professor of kinesiology at Oregon State University (OSU), on the findings. Cardinal was not involved in the research, but fully affirms its findings. "[Physical activity is] the secret ingredient to successful aging in terms of quality of life."

Staying physically active prevents heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer
In an accompanying editorial to the study, Patricia Katz from the University of California, San Francisco, and Russell Pate from the University of South Carolina affirmed these findings, adding that physical activity does a whole lot more than just prevent cognitive and muscle decline, it likewise protects against many of the major killers into today's world: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer being among these.

The evidence is so strong that even the federal government urges aging adults to stay active by engaging in either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, as well as at least two strength sessions that address all the major muscle groups.

This is a far cry from the amount of exercise that the average American, let alone elderly American, engages in on a regular basis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a mere 28 percent of people aged 75 years or older meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic activity. An even fewer percentage, the agency says, engage in the appropriate amount of strength training for optimal health -- a mere eight percent.

"We try to frame this as more physical activity than exercise," Gill adds. "We talk with older folks and many say, 'I can't exercise, but maybe I can become more physically active.' Prescribing exercise may be just as important as prescribing medications -- perhaps even more important in some cases."




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