The Loh Down On Science

Balancing Act

For most of us, walking is automatic, but to the elderly, it really does require some thought.

Think walking and chewing gum at the same time is easy?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

saying the answer may depend on your age.

For most of us, walking is automatic. We don't think about where to place each foot and when to swing each leg. This leaves plenty of brainpower for other things, like trying to remember where we put our car keys.

Researchers in Denmark wondered if this might change with age.

They had healthy volunteers, young and old, stroll ten times around a figure eight pattern on their lab floor.

Then the participants repeated the loops while also doing arithmetic in their head. (They subtracted seven from a number, then seven again, over and over, each time stating the answer out loud. )

The math test got all of the participants a little wobbly-legged. But septuagenarians completely lost their stride, showing SIXTY-ONE percent more gait variability than twenty-somethings.

It proves we have to actually think just to stay upright in our golden years, leaving less wiggle room for distractions.

In short, grandma: playing bingo? Sit down. And you're welcome.


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