Walking and brain health

For people in their 60s, regular walking appears to lower the risk of dementia. The finding, published in the medical journal Neurology, is the latest study to show that exercise helps delay some of the worst ravages of aging for both the body and the mind. The recent research tracked the exercise habits of 749 men and women in Italy who were over age 65 and were in good health, with no indication of memory problems at the beginning of the study.

After four years, they found that the most-frequent walkers had a 27 percent lower risk for developing vascular dementia than those people who walked the least. Walking may help stave off dementia because it improves cerebral blood flow and lowers the risk of vascular disease. The Neurology study didn’t see a connection between exercise and Alzheimer’s, but the authors note that other studies have shown a benefit, so more research needs to be done before ruling out exercise as a way to lower risk for Alzheimer’s.

Consider how many parts of the brain are exercised when walking- sight, smell, navigation, planning, conversation, listening, movement, and all the emotions that are stimulated- laughter, anger and perhaps tears!