Recently a new study of 300 people found that those who walked at least six miles a week had less age-related brain shrinkage compared to people who walked less. The study published in Neurology was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh.
The study had participants, free of dementia, keep track of how much they walked. Nine years later scientists took brain scans to measure their brain volume and then four years after that cognitive testing was conducted to identify impairment or dementia.
Those who walked six to nine miles a week halved their risk of developing dementia relative to those who walked less. The authors indicate their results are in line with other data showing aerobic exercise induces a spark of grey matter volume.
Brain size shrinks as we get older and this can relate to memory problems. Walking may be one approach to protect the brain or delay onset of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Authors of this study are encouraged by the results and indicate well controlled studies of physical exercise in older adults should be conducted as a viable approach for preventing dementia. Regular exercise across the lifespan, particularly in midlife, appears to be a reasonable and suggested activity for brain health.