How walking helps older women prevent dementia

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Are you looking to keep your brain healthy as you age? A new study from the University of California San Diego shows that older women who are more active each day are less likely to develop memory problems and thinking issues.

This research, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, has good news for women aged 65 and older.

Specifically, for every extra 31 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, there’s a 21% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

The study also found that every additional 1,865 daily steps lowered the risk by 33%.

Memory loss is a big deal, especially in the U.S. where over 5 million people are affected by some form of dementia.

This number is expected to double by 2050. Women are particularly at risk; more women live with and are more likely to develop dementia than men.

The Importance of Early Action

Memory problems don’t develop overnight. Andrea LaCroix, the senior author of the study, points out that the early stages of dementia can start 20 years or more before any symptoms become noticeable.

This makes early action crucial. According to LaCroix, physical activity is one of the top three ways to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Once diagnosed, reversing or even slowing down dementia is extremely difficult, as there’s no cure. “Prevention is crucial,” says LaCroix, emphasizing that the sooner you start taking steps to protect your brain health, the better.

Accurate Measures Make a Difference

The study had a unique feature: it used data from 1,277 women who were part of two separate Women’s Health Initiative studies.

These women wore research-grade activity trackers for up to a week. These devices helped researchers get accurate information about how much the women moved and sat during the day.

Before this, much of what we knew about activity levels and dementia was based on what people told researchers, which could be inaccurate.

In this study, the trackers showed that women took an average of 3,216 steps and spent about 45.5 minutes on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.

Interestingly, the study found that sitting for long periods didn’t seem to increase the risk of memory problems.

What Does This Mean for You?

Steve Nguyen, the first author of the study, says that older adults should be encouraged to be more active.

The study suggests that even simple activities like brisk walking can make a significant difference in lowering the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

So, if you’re an older woman looking to protect your brain health, this research offers a straightforward message: keep moving. The more you walk and the more active you are, the better it is for your brain.

And given that wearable devices are becoming more common, it’s easier than ever to track your steps and set achievable goals.

The researchers do note that more studies are needed, especially ones that include men and diverse populations. But for now, it seems that the old adage holds true: An active body helps maintain an active mind.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about Scientists find a drug related to Viagra may help treat vascular dementia and findings of A new method to spot Alzheimer’s and dementia early.

For more information about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about Vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and Oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The research findings can be found in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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