The Beneficial Effects of Cognitive Walking Program on Improving Cognitive Function and Physical Fitness in Older Adults

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Apr 5;9(4):419. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9040419.


Exercise and cognitive training can improve the brain-related health of the elderly. We investigated the effects of a cognitive walking program (CWP) involving simultaneous performance of indoor walking and cognitive training on cognitive function and physical fitness compared to normal walking (NW) outdoors. Participants were grouped according to whether they performed regular exercise for at least 3 months prior to the participation in this study. Active participants were assigned to the CWP-active group (CWPAG). Sedentary participants were randomly assigned to the CWP (CWPSG) or NW group (NWSG). CWP and NW were performed for 60 min, 3 times a week, for 6 months. Cognitive function (attention, visuospatial function, memory, and frontal/executive function) and physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, lower extremity muscular strength, and active balance ability) were measured at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months after the program onset. Cognitive function showed improvements over time in all three groups, especially in CWPAG. No clear difference was observed between CWPSG and NWSG. Improvements in all fitness measures were also observed in all three groups. These findings collectively indicate the beneficial effects of CWP, as well as NW, on improving cognitive function and physical fitness in older adults, especially those who are physically active.

Keywords: cardiorespiratory fitness; cognitive function; elderly health; walking.