Walking can Help Memory and Cognitive Function

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under health

I just read this recent report that came out last week and it makes me want to put a walk/hike together for oomphTV.

Studies suggest that even short walks or hikes can make a big difference in your overall health. Walking can even help maintain memory and cognitive function for years, a study finds.

The research, published online Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is based on a study of 299 men and women, average age 78, who were followed for nine years. The study participants were asked about their physical activity, which was calculated as number of blocks walked per week (walking was the most common exercise). Study subjects walked from zero to 300 blocks over a one-week period. High-resolution brain scans were done on the participants nine years after the beginning of the study.

The more the participants walked at the beginning of the study, the greater their brain volume nine years later. This was still the case after researchers controlled for a number of factors, including age, gender, body mass index and education.

 How many blocks of walking per week did it take to see improvement? The magic number was 72, or about six to nine miles. Walking more than that didn’t further improve gray-matter volume.

 Although all participants were deemed cognitively normal at the beginning of the study, 40% developed cognitive impairment or dementia four years in.

However, those who walked the most reduced their risk of acquiring memory loss by half. 

Lead author Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh said in a news release, “If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative.”

Those of you that are interested in putting together a hike in the Los Angeles area, perhaps in Griffith Park, please contact me david@oomphtv.com. If you don’t live in the Los Angeles area, perhaps you can contact some of your friends/neighbors and organize your own walk/hike.

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