Walking Reduces Risk of Cognitive Decline
in Men and Women
Frequent walking may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in
elderly men and women, according to two recent studies. Previous
studies have found an association between exercise and a reduced
risk of dementia, but it was unclear whether low-intensity exercise
such as walking might be protective.
For the first study, researchers asked 2,257 men without dementia
how far they walked each day. None of the participants had Parkinson’s
disease or stroke, which would impair their ability to walk.
Four to eight years later, the rate of dementia was 80% higher
in those who walked the least (less than a quarter-mile a day)
than in those who walked the most (more than two miles a day).
For the second study, researchers assessed levels of physical
activity, including walking, in 16,466 women. Nine to 15 years
later, women who got the most physical activity had a 20% lower
risk of cognitive impairment than those who got the least. In
addition, women who walked for at least 1.5 hours a week had
less cognitive decline over a two-year period than those who
walked less than 40 minutes a week.
Walking may reduce the risk of dementia by promoting blood supply
to the brain.
Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 292, pages 1447 and 1454
September 22/29, 2004