An article in this weeks’ Journal of Gerontology, provides some interesting information on how cognitive training can actually affect someone’s physical status. The article, titled “Effect of Cognitive Remediation on Gait in Sedentary Seniors,” reports on a small group of elders who completed 8 weeks of computer-based cognitive training. The authors found that the elders who completed cognitive training actually showed an increase in walking speed (even though that wasn’t part of the training).
This is significant for several reasons. First, it suggests that a mental activity can have positive effects on someone’s physical status. Said this way, this isn’t all that surprising — we’ve known for many years that relaxation can help to control blood pressure, and that stress management training can help to reduce the risks of heart attacks. The leap to something as basic as walking speed, however, is new.
Second, the study suggests (at least to me) that the link between mental and physical decline may work both ways. We’ve known for some time that exercise, for example, can have positive effects on cognition. This study suggests that the reverse may be true: that cognition can have a positive effect on physical status.
One more reason for all of us to continue to be both mentally and physically active.
Verghese J, et al.(2010). Effect of cognitive remediation on gait in sedentary seniors. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 65A, 1338-1343.