Brain fitness programs may help frail

Aug. 12, 2010 at 2:00 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Computerized brain fitness programs may help frail seniors walk faster, which may prevent disability and improve quality of life, U.S. researchers suggest.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York recruited 20 frail, sedentary seniors age 70 or older, who exercised once a week or less and walked slowly -- about 1 yard per second or less.

Half of the seniors participated in the Mindfit brain fitness program -- aimed at sharpening cognitive abilities such as focusing, planning, organizing and problem solving -- three times weekly for eight weeks, with each training session 45 to 60 minutes long. The other 10 seniors acted as the control group.

The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, finds that compared with their speeds at the beginning of the study, the 10 seniors in the intervention group improved their normal-walking velocity, although the gain was not statistically significant.

For walking while talking -- which requires considerably more concentration than normal walking -- the study subjects who used the computer program recorded notable improvement on their initial speeds. The control group has no improvement in walking speed.

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