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Could Walking Reduce Your Risk of Dementia?

Older Person Walking On Path

There's nothing quite like a relaxing walk around the neighbourhood. It's a great way to unwind from the day's events and get a little bit of exercise in. Yes, going for walks can certainly be relaxing...but can it also reduce your risk of developing dementia?

A research study conducted by neurologists at Jacksonville, Florida's Mayo Clinic, indicates this may in fact be the case. They found that taking a 20-minute walk each day could cut down the risk of developing dementia by a whopping 40%. This new research isn't stopping there, though. Currently, scientists are also exploring whether or not daily walks can slow down the mental progression of patients living with serious diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, a neurologist involved in the study, believes that "walking is a window to the brain." He went on to say that daily walks help keep healthy people healthy - and help protect patients with degenerative brain diseases from experiencing further symptoms, such as tremors, motor impairments, dementia, and memory loss. By keeping patients on their feet, the severity of patients symptoms are thought to decrease. In addition, the progression of the disease may actually slow down. How? "It helps brain cells recover by forming new connections." So, not only can your daily walk prevent the onset of dementia, it may also slow down or reduce the symptoms of degenerative brain diseases as well.

The reality is that more and more people in North America are being diagnosed with dementia every year. Gerpen links this to increased cases of vascular disease. He said that dementia is often "related to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes." Each of these vascular diseases can block the amount of blood flow to the brain - which affects brain tissue, and as a result, memory function. Walking regularly can reduce the risk of blocked blood flow, and therefore lower the risk of developing dementia.

Another dementia study at the University of Pittsburgh, found that those who took walks increased the size of their hippocampus - the part of the brain that controls new memories - by up to 2 percent. In comparison, most adult brains decrease by 1 to 2 percent each year. This research further proves the idea that daily walks can decrease dementia risks and improve memory function.

Why are these studies so intriguing? For patients dealing with serious degenerative brain diseases - or for those who are at risk to develop them in the future - this research provides hope. With dementia affecting millions of people around the world, nothing is more important than hope. By incorporating the results of these dementia studies into day-to-day life, many people are sure to benefit - and that is downright exciting.

Dementia affects the lives of men and women all over the world. So, to reduce your chances of developing dementia or one of it' related disease, get walking! The Mayo Clinic study allows healthy people and dementia sufferers alike the opportunity to improve their step at a time.

Are you looking for more information about dementia? Contact the Age Matters Clinic at: 647-268-0620. We understand how to improve the life of Alzheimer's and memory loss patients.