Walking five miles or about eight kilometres a week may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Walking slowed the decline in memory skills in people showing early signs of the disease and reduced brain shrinkage, symptomatic of Alzheimer’s.
The team at University of Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, US, tracked for 10 years 299 healthy adults and 127 people with mild cognitive decline which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, reports the Telegraph.
Cyrus Raji, radiologist at the university, said: “Because a cure for Alzheimer’s is not yet a reality, we hope to find ways of alleviating disease progression or symptoms in people who are already cognitively impaired.”
It was found that the further people walked in a week, the bigger their brains were when measured using MRI scans, according to a Pittsburg statement.
People with cognitive impairment needed to walk around five miles or about eight km per week to maintain brain volume over 10 years.
They also showed a slow decline in memory skills dropping by only one point in tests over five years when compared with five points for those who walked less.
“Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, and unfortunately, walking is not a cure. But walking can improve your brain’s resistance to the disease and reduce memory loss over time,” Raji said.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).