December 10, 2023

If you’re a parent of a child with Down syndrome or if you’re a teacher, chances are you’ve heard of the positive effects regular walks have on a person’s physical health. Research shows that walking regularly contributes to weight loss, lower blood pressure, and the list goes on.

Recently, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARI) discovered that regular walking is even more beneficial. According to investigators, adults with Down syndrome can greatly benefit from taking daily walks if they incorporate musical instruments in their daily routine.

Impact of exercise and cognitive challenges on cognitive health

The researchers recruited a diverse group of 83 adults with Down syndrome from various countries to participate in their study. They were divided into four different groups to assess the impact of regular exercise and cognitive challenges on their cognitive health.

One group engaged in walking exercises three times a week for 30 minutes while another group completed cognitive tests from the brain exercise company, BrainHQ. The third group combined physical exercise with cognitive training while the last group remained inactive.

Armed with Fitbits to monitor their steps, speed, distance and heart rate, the participants embarked on an eight-week journey of discovery.

At the end of the study, it was found that those who engaged in regular exercise covered a staggering 11.4 percent more area during a six-minute walking test. Moreover, the group that combined both physical and cognitive workouts achieved a remarkable 9.9 percent improvement.

How walking can help individuals with Down syndrome

So, why do these daily walks have such a positive impact? Walking requires effort and concentration, even if it seems like a subconscious activity for most of us.

In the case of individuals with Down syndrome, this heightened focus helps develop and enhance cognitive abilities. By staying active and paying attention to the task at hand, their brain gets an incredible workout, leading to improved cognitive function.

Walking – a simple and cost-effective activity – can transform lives

This improvement not only opens doors to greater societal integration but also allows individuals with the syndrome to lead a more fulfilling life beyond the limitations imposed by their condition.

As one in every one thousand children is born with Down syndrome, the research holds immense significance. With the extra chromosome associated with intellectual disability, motor skill delays and speech challenges, it’s crucial to find ways to empower individuals with this syndrome beyond their genetic predisposition.

The study’s lead researcher, Dan Gordon, predicts that these findings can pave the way for increased societal integration and improved quality of life, as this generation of individuals with Down syndrome – the first to generally outlive their parents – flourish.

So there you have it — the secret to unlocking greater cognitive prowess lies in something as simple as taking a daily walk. The study’s eye-opening findings highlight the incredible impact regular exercise can have on individuals with Down syndrome.