Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size
A
A
A

Walking Gives Older Women a Mental Boost

Walking Brings Mental Boost

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

-->

Three times a week, 80-year-old Sue Lewis puts on her tennis shoes and goes for a brisk walk around her neighborhood running track. But she doesn't just walk around it once or twice. Ten laps doesn't stop her -- and after 15 laps, you can bet she's still moving. In fact, Lewis has been known to walk around the track as many as 46 times a day. "I walk pretty fast. My cousin has a hard time keeping up with me," she says.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Healthy Aging: What Can You Control?

When it comes to aging, Bebe Shaw didn't hit the genetic lottery. Her mother died from congestive heart failure, her father of a heart condition. The younger of her two brothers had a heart attack at age 52, and her younger sister is on the verge of congestive heart failure. Shaw, 69, has high cholesterol -- a serious risk factor for heart disease. With such a checkered health history, she's not taking any chances. "I am an advocate of exercise and diet," says Shaw, who works as a paralegal in Ocala,...

Read the Healthy Aging: What Can You Control? article > >

If she's not on the track, you might find Lewis on the treadmill or walking up mountains and across the grass at her family farm in Georgia. Her "keep on moving" motto isn't just keeping her body in great shape, however. Researchers say her brain gets a workout too. Last spring, investigators from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), told a conference of nerve specialists that walking may help older women keep their brains young.

"Women who walk regularly are less likely to experience the memory loss and other declines in mental function that can come with aging," explains study author and neurologist Kristine Yaffe, MD.

Indeed, Lewis is as sharp as she is quick on her feet.

"My memory is great," she says. "I'm sharp as a tack, even though I do forget where I put my glasses from time to time."

Flexing Your Mental Muscle

For the study, UCSF researchers tested the thinking power of about 6,000 women aged 65 and older. The women were given a mental exam at the start of the study and then again six to eight years later.

Yaffe and her colleagues found that the women who walked the least -- less than a half-mile a week -- were the most likely to develop mental decline. Nearly a fourth showed significant declines in their test scores, compared to only 17% of women in the most active group.

"It doesn't seem like a big difference, but it really is," says Yaffe.

Physical activity was charted by measuring the number of blocks the women walked per week and also by the total calories they burned in recreation, walking, and climbing stairs. The most active women walked about 18 miles a week, or 2.5 miles a day.

If 18 miles a week classifies you as physically active, then 77-year-old Lura Roehl just might be superwoman. The Washington, DC, native walks three times a day, every day, with her 80-year-old husband, Charles. Together they clock 46 miles a week.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article