There are lots of theories and myths out there about how to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But a new study has shown that there could be one simple thing we could all do to help keep our memory healthy.
Researchers have found that walking can both cut your chance of getting Alzheimer’s and slow it’s progression once you have it.
Of course, there are general guidelines to follow here — walking from the kitchen to the couch doesn’t exactly count. You have to walk just over eight kilometers a week, every week, for at least ten years.
“We found that walking five miles per week protects brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer’s and MCI, especially in areas of the brain’s key memory and learning centers,” said Dr Cyrus Raji of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We also found that these people had a slower decline in memory loss over five years.”
These findings are the result of a 20-year study that followed 426 people, including 299 healthy seniors, 127 cognitively impaired adults and 44 Alzheimer’s patients. The activity levels of each and every participant was measured, and they a strong link between exercise and cognitive functioning.
Still, while walking can slow disease progression, it’s far from a miracle cure; “Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, and unfortunately, walking is not a cure,” Raji said. “But walking can improve your brain’s resistance to the disease and reduce memory loss over time.”
But whether you’re concerned about Alzheimer’s or not, there’s no doubt that walking — or at least some sort of physical activity — should be a regular thing for you. Walking two kilometers a day should be the minimum, and if you want to take it up a notch, start taking your walks to the hills or give running a try. Regular activity is good for your waistline and your overall health, plus it’s the number one weapon in your fight against the common cold.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those walking shoes and get going.