Can Walking Slow Alzheimer’s Progression?
By Charlotte Bumstead
The Cardiovascular Healthy Study has examined, over the last 20 years, how walking can affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The results are in, and they show a slower progression of Alzheimer’s in those who walked eight kilometres per week than those who did not. There were 299 healthy adults participating in the study, as well as 127 cognitively impaired adults; including 44 with Alzheimer’s and 83 with mild cognitive impairment. Medical assessments were provided yearly, along with questions about physical activity. Brain scans were presented ten years into the study.
“Individuals with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease who walked the eight kilometres a week had better preservation of areas of the brain that are important in memory and learning, such as the hippocampus, the frontal lobes and the temporal lobes,” said study co-author Cyrus Raji of the department of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Within the healthy adult patients, the scans illustrated their brains were larger than the people who hadn’t walked as much. Results showed that walking as much as 10 kilometres a week can preserve the brain from aging.
The study was only observational and does not prove cause-and-effect. But it does show serious benefits to the brain as a result of physical exercise.