We are all aware of the benefits that physical activity brings to our bodies and minds – especially as we start to get older – but a recent study conducted by a team of scientists has revealed that taking a long daily stroll could play an even bigger role. In fact, it could be key to fending off cognitive decline and a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s often include disorientation, difficulty making decisions, speech issues, notable changes in personality and delusions; all of which can be life-changing for the individual and their families.
The newly published research studied a cohort of 182 participants with an average age of just 73. Some participants presented elevated b-amyloid levels (a protein which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease) and were believed to be at greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline over an eight-year period.
Using pedometers, each of the study members was asked to track their daily activity levels. The daily step counters revealed that those who had higher levels of physical activity had a significantly reduced level of cognitive decline.
Following the study, scientists were able to conclude that walking 8,900 steps a day could be directly linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s, currently the most common form of dementia in the UK.
The research also revealed that those who were able to achieve the 8,900 steps per day were also shown to have a slower rate of brain tissue loss when compared to ‘normal’ people who had high levels of amyloid plaque in the brain and not perceived to be at greater risk of cognitive decline.
“Beneficial effects were seen at even modest levels of physical activity but were most prominent at around 8,900 steps, which is only slightly less than the 10,000 many of us strive to achieve daily,” Reisa Sperling, director of the Centre for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment and co-author of the study, told Press Association.
Exactly how far do I need to walk to protect myself against Alzheimer’s?
For those already heading off in search of their pedometers or fitness trackers, the good news is that the ‘magic’ step per day number sits at just under 9,000 – which to me and you is around 4.5 miles dependant on your stride length.
Although this may sound like quite the stroll, many people tracking their activity levels for health are often surprised at just how easily steps add up during the course of the day.
From pottering around the garden to a quick trip to the supermarket, all step activity counts towards this daily goal, so there’s never been a better time or reason to dust off those walking shoes and head out for a stroll.
At Ashridge Home Care , we take a personal and sensitive approach to dementia care as we understand that the symptoms vary quite considerably from person to person. Consistency of routine and surroundings provide comfort and reassurance, and being immersed in a home full of memories is often invaluable.