Walking can slow down dementia
The benefits of a simple walking regime have been found to slow down the early stages of dementia.
Being struck down with some form of dementia later in life is a lot of people’s biggest fear, and there are lots of guidelines on how to help stave off the mental syndrome.
But new research has concluded that even after you start suffering with memory problems, it’s not too late to stop it in its tracks.
A team from the University of British Columbia in Canada led a clinical trial on 70 elderly people, with an average age of 74, all with a mild form of vascular cognitive impairment, the second most common cause of dementia and one that results from damage to the small vessels that feed deep into the brain.
Assigning the test group to either exercise for six months or carry on with their usual care, all participants took tests at the beginning and end of the research, measuring thinking skills, executive function (cognitive control), memory and competence at daily activities.
No differences were shown between the group’s executive function, there was a notable distinction between the participant’s memories.
The walking group, who exercised three times a week for an hour at a time and gradually built up their intensity, had improved memory, blood pressure and could walk farther.
“Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce the risk of developing memory problems, but few studies have looked at whether it can help people who already have these problems get better or keep from getting worse,” explained study author Teresa Liu-Ambrose.
“This result, while modest, was similar to that seen in previous studies testing the use of drugs for people with vascular cognitive impairment.
“However, the difference was less than what is considered to be the minimal clinically important difference of three points.”
The group was looked at six months after the study ended, and after not keeping up the exercise programme, the walkers’ improved results had vanished.
“Unless you’re doing the exercise, the benefits do diminish,” Teresa warned.