Alzheimer’s disease could be ‘staved off’ by walking 4,000 steps a day: expert

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Exercise boosts the parts of the brain important for memory and learning, explaining why a workout can stave off dementia.

Those who regularly walked, ran or played sport developed larger brain volume in these key areas.

The link between regular exercise and better brain health follows research from Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Brain Health Center published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Scientists studied the brains of more than 10,000 people and found that gray matter, which helps with processing information, and white matter, which connects different brain regions, as well as the hippocampus, important for memory were all more pronounced in exercisers.

The team studied MRI scans on 10,125 people to discover why a workout reduces the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Dr David Merrill, study co-author and director of the PBHC said: “We found that even moderate levels of physical activity, such as taking fewer than 4,000 steps a day, can have a positive effect on brain health.

“This is much less than the often-suggested 10,000 steps, making it a more achievable goal for many people.”

Lead researcher Dr Cyrus Raji added: “Our research supports earlier studies that show being physically active is good for your brain.

“Exercise not only lowers the risk of dementia but also helps in maintaining brain size, which is crucial as we age.”

Study co-author Dr Somayeh Meysami assistant professor of neurosciences at Saint John’s Cancer Institute and the Pacific Brain Health Center said: “Our research links regular physical activity to larger brain volumes, suggesting neuroprotective benefits.

“This large sample study furthers our understanding of lifestyle factors in brain health and dementia prevention.”

A Lancet Study in 2020 found about a dozen modifiable risk factors increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease, including physical activity.

This work builds upon previous work by this group, linking caloric burn from leisure activities to improved brain structure.

George Perry, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease said: “This study demonstrates the influence of exercise on brain health imaging and when added to other studies on the role of diet, stress reduction and social connection offer the proven benefits of drug-free modifiable factors in substantially reducing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Whether it’s a daily walk or a favorite sport, regular physical activity can have lasting benefits for our brain health.

 

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