Walks reduce the risk of Alzheimer's

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Study: Slow walks of over eight kilometers a week significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's

Regular walks can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. This was found in a US science study conducted by the “University of Pittsburgh” in Pennsylvania. Just eight kilometers of normal or slow walking a week is enough to keep cognitive abilities longer. Even people who are already affected can reduce the progression of the disease by walking regularly.

Exercise keeps mental abilities fit

An increasing number of studies indicate that regular exercise keeps the body and mind fit in old age. Based on a long-term study, US researchers have now shown that just eight kilometers of walks a week are enough to reduce the progress of forgetfulness in old age. A total of 426 elderly people aged 79 years took part in the study by Cyrus Raji of the University of Pittsburgh. The participants were divided into two different groups. One group consisted of 299 healthy adults and the other of 127 people who were already suffering from Alzheimer's or from an LKB (mild cognitive impairment). In the course of the study, the scientists wanted to find out what effects regular walks have on physical and mental fitness. The second point of view was how the continuous movement affects those who are already ill.

First, the researchers determined how many kilometers the test subjects covered on foot each week. In the further course, the data were noted in order to compare them after ten years. After the end of the observation period, the scientists used a magnetic resonance tomograph to examine the brain and the brain volume for changes. Because the volume is "a vital sign of the brain," explained the study author Dr. Cyrus Raji. If the brain volume has decreased, “it means that brain cells have died. On the other hand, if it remains unchanged, the health of the brain is also preserved. "

After five years, the researchers tested the cognitive skills of the study participants. To do this, they used the generally applicable standard test for diagnosing Alzheimer's and dementia (mini-mental status test). The test includes examines intellectual skills in writing, reading and arithmetic, as well as language skills and memory. The researchers then examined the results with the extent of the weekly walks. Influencing factors such as age, body mass, gender and head circumference were included in the data collection and counted accordingly.

Eight kilometers are enough to optimally delay the decline in mental ability. The result: If the participants already suffered from Alzheimer's or LKB, walking eight kilometers slowly per week is sufficient to optimally delay the decrease in mental ability. In order to reduce the dementia and Alzheimer's risk in healthy volunteers, people should cover at least 9.7 kilometers a week. "Walking is not a cure for Alzheimer's, but it can increase the brain's resistance to disease," said researcher Cyrus Raji.

In Alzheimer's, cognitive performance is declining. The first warning signs in older people are a constant repetition of the same stories, questions or wording. Declining to completely no longer exists, the completion of everyday business, such as personal hygiene and appearance, monetary business, answering simple questions and finding everyday objects. The causes of the onset of the disease are still not fully understood. Corresponding remedies have not yet been found. However, numerous studies have repeatedly shown that there are opportunities for risk reduction. In addition to regular exercise, nutrition also seems to play an important role. In another study, researchers at the "New York Columbia University" found that eating lots of vegetables, fish and nuts can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. (sb, Nov 29, 2010)

Also read:
Memory loss: emotions remain
Vegetables and fish for Alzheimer's prevention
Eye test helps diagnose Alzheimer's

Photo credit: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Alzheimers disease risk and lifestyle

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