Health Buzz: Walking Protects Brain From Memory Loss
By Angela Haupt
Posted: October 14, 2010
Walking Six Miles a Week May Prevent Brain Shrinkage
Walking may ward off dementia and mental decline, new research suggests. Older people who walk about six miles a week have more brain tissue in key areas than those who walk less, helping maintain memory and cognitive function, according to a study published Wednesday in Neurology. The researchers initially asked nearly 300 healthy volunteers ages 70 to 90 to record how many blocks they walked in a week. Nine years later, they took high-resolution brain scans of the group and found that the more the participants walked at the beginning of the study, the greater their brain volume. On further followup four years later, cognitive testing showed that those who walked six to nine miles a week had half the risk of developing memory problems, Reuters reports. Brain size tends to shrink in late adulthood, which is thought to lead to memory problems. “If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative,” the study authors wrote in a news release.
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