Evidence continues to accumulate about the benefits of walking over other forms of exercise.
The latest study suggests that as well as improving the body, a brisk walk can also improve the mind. A team from the University of Illinois randomly assigned 124 sedentary adults, aged 60 to 75, to either an aerobic programme of brisk walking or an anaerobic programme of stretching and toning exercises. Both groups were comparable in terms of their level of fitness at the study's start.
Not surprisingly, the aerobic group showed a greater improvement in terms of fitness and lung capacity at the end of the trial. But what did raise an eyebrow was that the aerobic walking group also showed a clear improvement in cognitive function (Nature, 1999; 400: 418-9).
l In another report, brisk walking has been shown to potentially prevent type II diabetes. Information from the Nurses Health Study has shown that the more brisk the walking pace, the lower the risk of developing diabetes-so put on those walking shoes (JAMA, 1999; 282: 1433-9).