Easy-to-Walk Communities Linked to Sharper Senior Minds
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 01:21 PM

Living in easy-to-walk communities may slow mental decline in older adults, according to a small study.  Over two years, the participants were given a series of tests to assess mental skills such as attention and memory.  By the end of the study, those who lived in easy-to-walk communities had better outcomes both in physical health -- such as lower body fat and blood pressure -- and in mental skills.

These findings could prove useful for older adults, caregivers, health care providers, architects and urban planners, according to study author.  "People can walk either to get somewhere or for leisure," she noted in a university news release.  "Depending on which type of walking you're interested in, a neighborhood might have different characteristics. Features of a neighborhood that encourage walking for transportation require having someplace worth walking to, like neighbors' houses, stores and parks."   For leisure walking, neighborhoods should have features such as walking trails and shade trees, and provide a feeling of security.  "For older adults, safety is a key issue in walkability. That includes things like traffic lights that give ample time to cross, sidewalks that are in good repair, and benches to stop and rest."