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Walking Reduces Dementia Risk


Updated July 18, 2012

Once again, a study has found brainy benefits for seniors who walk regularly. The study suggests that people over age 65 can reduce their risk of developing vascular dementia by 29% by getting regular moderate exercise, such as walking. Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. The study was published in the December 19, 2007, online issue of Neurology.

Vascular Dementia Risks Reduced by Walking

The study followed 749 men and women for four years, documenting their weekly physical activities. While the participants had no memory problems at the beginning of the study, by the end 54 had developed Alzheimer's disease and 27 had developed vascular dementia. Those in the top one-third for physical activity were 27% less likely to develop vascular dementia, compared with the bottom one-third. Getting the highest activity reduced the risk by 29%. This study found no reduction in Alzheimer's disease risk for those who were more active.

Walking for Brain Health

The authors speculate that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, which may help prevent vascular dementia. "Our findings show moderate physical activity, such as walking, and all physical activities combined lowered the risk of vascular dementia in the elderly independent of several sociodemographic, genetic and medical factors," said study author Giovanni Ravaglia, MD, in a press release. "It’s important to note that an easy-to-perform moderate activity like walking provided the same cognitive benefits as other, more demanding activities."

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G. Ravaglia, P. Forti, A. Lucicesare, N. Pisacane, E. Rietti, M. Bianchin, and E. Dalmonte. "Physical activity and dementia risk in the elderly. Findings from a prospective Italian study." Neurology published December 19, 2007 as doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000296276.50595.86.

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