Can brisk walking ward off dementia?

According to a novel research, people who stride out regularly for brisk walks can ward off the dementia, a degenerative condition which is characterized by gradual impairment in cognitive function.

The study found 20 minutes of brisk walk every day not only enhances memory but also improve brain function in senior citizens.

Lead researcher Dr Carson Smith at Maryland University said, “No study has shown a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise.”

Link between walking and dementia assessed
In a bid to investigate the co-relation between walking and dementia in senior citizens, the researchers conducted a study.

They recruited people aged 60 to 88 and assigned them to a moderate exercise regimen. Half the subjects exhibited signs of mild cognitive impairment, a warning sign of impending dementia.

As a part of the study, the participants were asked to walk on a treadmill under the guidance of a personal trainer for a period of 12 weeks.

Outcome of the study
The subjects underwent scans and memory tests at the onset and close of the program. It was noted that cardiovascular fitness improved by about 10 per cent in respondents irrespective of mental impairment.

The scans revealed that moderate workouts perk up brain function. Mental health of all the volunteers in the regimen was sharper. Physical activity improved their memory performance and helped them scored better in memory retrieval tasks.

Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer’s Research UK stated, “This small study provides a possible clue about one way in which exercise may benefit the brain. Although this research does not show that exercise can prevent dementia, further investigation to confirm these results and assess the long-term effects on the brain would be worthwhile. Dementia is the greatest medical challenge we face today and we urgently need to find ways to prevent the condition.”

The results are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

About dementia
Dementia is a chronic and progressive age-related disease characterized by irreversible cognitive decline and functional impairment. The mental disorder can be caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as stroke and infections to the brain.

Though it is believed that genetics play a role in dementia, recent studies reveal that lifestyle factors might also influence the severity of the problems.The disease currently affects over 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer’s is the third-largest killer in the United States after heart disease and cancer.

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