Walking May Protect Memory in Elderly

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 19 (UPI) — Walking at least 6 miles per week may prevent brain shrinkage and preserve memory in the elderly, University of Pittsburgh researchers say.

“Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” study author Kirk I. Erickson says in a statement.

Erickson says the study involved 299 dementia-free people who recorded the number of blocks they walked in one week. Nine years later, brain scans of the study subjects were taken to measure brain size. After four more years, the participants were tested to see if they had developed cognitive impairment or dementia.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found people who walked at least 72 blocks per week — about 6 to 9 miles — had greater brain volume than people who didn’t walk as much. However, walking more than 72 blocks did not appear to increase brain volume any further, the study says.

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