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Regular walking benefits adults with Down syndrome, enhancing cognitive functions like information processing and attention. A recent study highlights the positive impact of light daily exercise, emphasizing its importance for overall well-being in this population.

Physical activity enhances cognitive growth in individuals with Downsydrome

Anglia Ruskin University researchers found that individuals with Down syndrome often fall short of daily physical activity recommendations. The study underscores the importance of prioritizing cognitive growth and achieving fitness goals within this population, emphasizing the need for tailored interventions to promote a healthier lifestyle.

The research involved 83 adults from 10 countries, divided into four groups. The first group exercised by walking three times a week. On the other hand the second group engaged in cognitive tests from BrainHQ while the third group combined physical and cognitive exercises, with the fourth group had no interventions.

Participants in the study were equipped with Fitbits to monitor daily steps, speed, distances, and heart rate. Those engaging in cognitive challenges used a separate app. Both exercise groups, after an eight-week period, showed significant improvements in the six-minute walking test, with a 11.4% increase for physical exercise and a 9.9% improvement for combined physical and cognitive training.

Individuals with Down syndrome in these groups exhibited enhanced cognitive task performance compared to non-exercising groups. Moreover, those who exercised and/or underwent cognitive training demonstrated superior performance on the Stroop test, indicating enhanced decision-making speed and accuracy.

Walking necessitates effort to be focused and attentive

According to Dan Gordon, an associate professor in cardiorespiratory exercise physiology at ARU, walking may seem like a subconscious activity, but it actually requires significant information processing and decision-making.

Walking is recommended for individuals with Down syndrome as it necessitates effort to stay attentive and focused. Down syndrome, affecting one in every one thousand children, results from an extra copy of a chromosome, leading to intellectual disabilities, motor skill delays, and speech difficulties. Typically, humans are born with 46 chromosomes, organized into 23 pairs.

The discovery holds significant promise for the Down syndrome community, emphasizing the value of walking as a universally accessible activity.