Walking Towards a Future Without Dementia: The Power of Movement in Alzheimer’s Prevention
World Alzheimer’s Day Commemoration in Vila Nova de Gaia
The Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal is set to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day, held every year on September 21, with a series of awareness and prevention activities throughout the month of September. This year, the administration has adopted the slogan ‘Not all forgetfulness is dementia, not all dementia is Alzheimer’s’ for 2023. The objective is to emphasize the importance of lifestyle modifications that can postpone the onset of dementia.
The culmination of the month’s events will be a Walk for Dementia Prevention on September 30. The walk begins at Areinho de Avintes and will be followed by a Yoga Session. Attendees are encouraged to dress comfortably for the walk. In the case of unfavourable weather conditions, the walk will be cancelled.
The Power of Walking in Dementia Prevention
Recent studies have found that walking can have a significant impact on dementia prevention. A study published in JAMA Neurology found that walking 10,000 steps a day could reduce the risk of dementia by half. For those unable to walk this distance, even just 4,000 daily steps could decrease dementia risk by a quarter. The study analysed data from over 78,000 adults, revealing that half an hour of brisk walking was associated with a 62% decline in the risk of dementia.
These findings highlight the importance of physical activity in maintaining optimal brain health. While a 10,000 step goal may seem intimidating to some, even a smaller amount of steps, around 4,000, could cut the risk by a quarter. Hence, integrating regular walking into one’s routine could be a powerful motivator for those less active or physically fit.
A Closer Look at the Study
The research was based on data from the U.K. Biobank, which has been collecting biological and medical data on half a million people since 2006. The researchers focused on data from February 2013 to December 2015. Participants were required to wear an accelerometer on their wrists to document their activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The researchers focused their analysis on 78,430 participants aged 40 to 79 who had at least three days’ worth of accelerometer data and who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia at the outset. In October of 2021, the researchers checked back in on the participants through medical and death registry records.
By 2021, with a median of 6.9 years of follow-up, it was determined that 866 of the participants had developed dementia. The researchers found that the number of steps people took per day was associated with how likely they were to develop dementia, with 9,826 steps per day associated with a 51% decrease in the risk of dementia. A step count of 3,826 was associated with a 25% decrease in the risk of dementia.
Walking Pace and Dementia Risk
Another striking finding was the significant decrease in risk associated with walking at a brisk pace. People who walked at a pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes were linked with a 68% decrease in risk. This suggests that walking intensity, in addition to the number of steps, plays a crucial role in reducing dementia risk.
Recent research has been emphasizing the importance of modifiable risk factors, such as physical activity, in dementia prevention. The results of this study offer an exciting opportunity to explore how the number of steps and their intensity could affect dementia risk and overall brain health.
Moving Forward: Steps Towards a Healthier Future
While the study’s findings are significant, it’s important to note that it’s unlikely that walking alone will be the sole exercise that impacts the risk of dementia. A combination of interventions such as cognitive stimulation, a healthy diet, and other forms of physical activity could also play a role.
The study provides a valuable insight into the benefits of regular walking and its potential to reduce dementia risk. As we continue to uncover the connections between physical activity and brain health, it’s clear that putting one foot in front of the other could be a significant step towards a future without dementia.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.