As one of the top causes of death in the United States, studies involving Alzheimer’s are on the perpetual rise. Researchers at a Chicago conference discovered that walking five miles per week can help halt brain function decline as well as protect the brain in individuals experiencing cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. For health individuals, walking six miles per week showed similar results.
Accounting for more than half of all dementia cases, Alzheimer’s disease can affect people as early as age 40.
For the study, researchers analyzed brain volume changes in individuals with various levels of cognitive impairment.
Researchers found walking five miles per week can protect the brain in people who have Alzheimer’s disease, particularly regarding memory and learning. Also, the rate of memory loss in individuals over five years declined.
Currently, no cure for Alzheimer’s exists, which is why studies working to achieve brain protection and improvement are becoming increasingly important for researchers.
The study is still gathering data and results as researchers work to determine the specifics of the relationship between physical activity and brain function.
The study involved a total of 426 people: 127 impaired with an average age of 81 years old, and 299 healthy adults averaging the age of 78.
Researchers analyzed the walking distance participants traveled per week, over the course of 10 years.
Experts explain brain volume as a vital sign of brain function and health.
The study showed as exercise levels increased, brain volume increased as well. For individuals with cognitive impairment, walking 5 miles each week increased brain volume, and walking 6 miles per week increased brain volume in healthy individuals. Walking more than that did not seem to offer additional brain volume benefits.
While walking is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it can help protect the brain and potentially slow down memory loss.