Walk to Remember

Always forgetting where you put your keys? Walking might be your solution.

By Aminda Jacobs, published September 1, 2001 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Exercise is key in maintaining a young body. And new research suggests that walking for exercise is also related to keeping a young mind.

In a University of California at San Francisco study, Kristine Yaffe, M.D., an assistant psychology and neurology professor, first measured the cognitive abilities of nearly 6,000 women ages 65 or older. She then kept track of the women's physical activity for six to eight years by recording the number of miles they walked each week as well as the number of calories they burned.

Testing their cognitive abilities again, Yaffe discovered that of the participants who walked the least, 24 percent showed a significant decline in their test scores. But only 17 percent of the most active women had significantly lower test scores.

Presented at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting, the study's findings suggest that it isn't necessary to engage in vigorous workouts to reap the mental benefits of exercise. In fact, Yaffe also found a "dose relationship" between walking and maintaining cognitive ability, meaning that more exercise is great, but even a little makes a difference.