Alzheimers Disease Can be Offset by Walking
The idea of coming down with Alzheimers Disease strikes fear into many of us as we get older. We are merely passengers on this ride, and apart from living a healthy life, can do nothing to prevent it if it strikes. However, researchers have recently found that walking just a mile a day can ward off the disease.
"This is the first study that really looked over a several-year span and was able to assess this," said study author Kirk Erickson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Erickson's study found that walking at least one mile per day significantly enhanced the volume of several regions of the brain, including the frontal lobe, which is involved in reasoning and problem-solving.
The researchers also found people who walked that distance reduced their risk of cognitive impairment by about half. However, walking more than one mile every day did not further improve brain volume.
Gray matter shrinks as adults age, increasing the potential for cognitive impairment and raising the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, Erickson said. Approximately 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Previous studies by University of Illinois researchers have examined the effects of physical activity on brain function in the elderly over shorter time spans, from six months to one year, Erickson said.