Walking Can Keep Your Brain from Shrinking

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by Alex A. Kecskes

Walking at least six miles per week may keep your brain from "downsizing" and succumbing to memory loss. So says a recent study published in the October 13, 2010, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology

Our brains shrink as we age, which is why memory problems appear in people entering their 60s and 70s. Physical exercise in older adults, especially walking, shows promise as a way to reduce the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

In a recent study supported by the National Institute on Aging, 299 dementia-free people recorded the distance they walked in one week. Nine years later, scientists took brain scans to measure the walkers' brain size. After four additional years, the walkers were tested for cognitive impairment or dementia. The study found that people who walked at least six to nine miles had greater gray matter volume than non-walkers or those who fell short of a 6-mile walk. On the other hand, walking more than 6 miles produced no significant increase in gray matter volume. However, those who walked the most cut their risk of developing memory problems in half.

This supports the belief that regular exercise in midlife and beyond may improve brain health as well as one's ability to think and avoid memory loss in later life.

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

For an additional perspective, check out the video, How going for a Walk can Boost Brainpower

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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