There are lots of things I’ve come to accept about getting older.
For instance, I no longer panic when a gray hair sprouts up on my head. And as far as I’m concerned, wrinkles are nothing more than wisdom lines. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)
But just mention the word Alzheimer’s and all bets are off. Frankly, the thought of dementia’s slowly stealing away what it is that makes me ME is, well, nothing short of terrifying.
Slip on your walking shoes and slash Alzheimer’s risk
But some new research done at the University of Pittsburgh has given me hope that I will never have to worry my little gray-hair-sprouting head about it again. Researchers there are saying that staving off Alzheimer’s may be as simple as slipping on my walking shoes and going for a daily stroll.
And I’m not talking about just a slight reduction in your risk here. They found that walking a little over three-fourths of a mile a day could slash your risk by a whopping 50 percent!
If you’re already experiencing some mild cognitive impairment the news is even better for you. Your daily three-fourths-of-a-mile stroll can reduce brain atrophy and cognitive decline by more than 50 percent.
Using MRI and cognitive exams, the researchers were able to show that healthy adults who walked what amounts to a total of six miles per week, were able to maintain their brain volume (when brain cells die, your brain volume decreases) and reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by half over 13 years. If you’re a city slicker like me, that’s about 72 blocks or 10 blocks a day if you walk daily.
Cognitively impaired people needed to walk just five miles—about 58 blocks—per week to maintain brain volume and slow their cognitive decline.
And in case you’re wondering, I’m happy to report that the impressive results persisted even after the researchers factored in other risk factors for dementia including high blood pressure, age and gender.
Remember, everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.