Walking has long been associated with several health benefits. For those who can't take out time to exercise, walking is the least that can be done to ensure that your body engages in some sort of physical activity. Health experts suggest that a daily walk can not only help you remain fit but it also acts as a stress buster.
Here's some more good news. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Kansas, walking regularly may prevent memory decline in older adults.The study also showed that the residential or living area also has an impact on our mental health.
"Features of a neighbourhood that encourage walking for transportation require having someplace worth walking to, like neighbours' houses, stores and parks," said Amber Watts, assistant professor of clinical psychology, University of Kansas.
Researchers judged walkability using geographic information systems - essentially maps that measure and analyse spatial data. "GIS data can tell us about roads, sidewalks, elevation, terrain, distances between locations and a variety of other pieces of information," Watts said.
Watts and his team examined 25 people with Alzheimer's disease and 39 older adults without cognitive impairment. It was seen that easy to walk communities helped people achieve better health results in term of maintaining a healthy body-mass-index, blood pressure levels as well better memory.
Researchers further studied the relationship between the residential locality and the cognitive performance of the participants. The study was carried out for over two years, factoring in issues like age, gender, education and wealth, that might influence people's cognitive scores independently of neighbourhood characteristics. Interestingly, it was found that complex community layouts might help keep cognition sharp.
"There seems to be a component of a person's mental representation of the spatial environment, for example, the ability to picture the streets like a mental map. Complex environments may require more complex mental processes to navigate. Our findings suggest that people with neighbourhoods that require more mental complexity actually experience less decline in their mental functioning over time," noted Watts.