Exercise May Boost Cognition In Adults With Down Syndrome

A new study suggests that walking offers a host of benefits for adults with Down syndrome. (Arek Adeoye/Unsplash)

Taking regular walks can do much more than improve the physical health of adults with Down syndrome.

New research finds that walking three times a week for 30 minutes could lead to significant improvements in cognitive activity within weeks.

For the study, 83 people with Down syndrome living in 10 different countries were divided into four groups. Some of the participants were asked to walk three times a week for 30 minutes, while others were asked to do a series of cognitive and executive function exercises. A third group did physical and cognitive activities, while a fourth group did neither.

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All adults in the study were provided with a Fitbit to record their activity level and completed physical and cognitive assessments at the start and end of the study.

After eight weeks, the researchers found that individuals in the group who participated in the walking exercise, as well as those in the group who completed the physical and brain health activities, increased the distance they could walk in a six-minute walking test by approximately 10%. . They also showed significantly fewer errors and increases in correct responses on a cognitive activity.

He study A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health also found marked improvement among those in groups that did exercise, cognitive training, or both on a separate test that measured the speed and accuracy of decision-making.

“These findings are potentially huge for the Down syndrome community, particularly because walking is a free activity that most people can participate in,” said Dan Gordon, associate professor of cardiorespiratory exercise physiology at Anglia Ruskin University in UK and lead author. from The Study. “Better cognitive function can lead to greater social integration and quality of life, which is important given that this is the first generation of people with Down syndrome who will generally outlive their parents.”

Gordon noted that although walking is often considered a subconscious activity, it actually requires a fair amount of information processing.

“In our participants with Down syndrome, we believe that walking has the effect of activating locomotor pathways, boosting cognitive development, and improving information processing, vigilance, and attention,” Gordon said.

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