Scientists have long known that walking and other light exercise is good for your heart, now they are finding out that it may be good for your brain as well.
A number of studies have come out in the past year that show a link between a lack of exercise and the onset of dementia. Dementia may occur as the result of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other diseases.
In a study of over 2,200 retired men between 71 and 93 years of age it was shown that those who walked less than a quarter of a mile per day were more likely to develop dementia than men who walked more than two miles per day.
A study of 16,400 female nurses between 70 and 81 years of age showed that those women who walked less than one and a half hours a week scored lower on mental function tests.
Participants in a study of 3,300 men and women over the age of 65 who engaged in four or more different types of physical activities had about the half the risk of dementia as those who engaged in one physical activity. It is thought that the variety of activities has a positive effect, but the calories expended did not appear to matter. Fifteen different types of activities were considered included walking, household chores, mowing, raking, gardening, hiking, golfing, swimming and dancing.
In a study of approximately 1,500 older adults, those who in middle age exercised vigorously enough to perspire and breathe hard for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a week reduced their risk of later developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 60 percent.
It is not know whether the results of the studies are due solely to the activity level of the participants or whether people who are active generally have healthier lifestyles.